The Enumclaw City Council took steps to simplify the city's municipal code as it pertains to gambling taxes on Monday night by passing an ordinance that eliminates the phrase "less prizes paid," which according to City Attorney Mike Reynolds is "an accounting nightmare."
In full, the new code (9.48.030B) reads: "There shall be a City tax levied upon all other gambling activites, except social card games, of five percent of the gross receipts of such activites."
During the first reading of this ordinance two weeks ago, Finance Director Stephanie McKenzie explained that the city had two active codes addressing gambling taxes.
One stated: "There shall be a city tax levied on all other gambling activities, except social gard games, of five percent of gross receipts, less prizes paid."
The other stated: "There shall be a city tax levied upon all other gambling activities, except social card games, of five percent of gross receipts."
According to City Attorney Reynolds, the near duplication stems from various ordinances being passed in 1977, 1993 and then 1997. This current ordinance consolidates the existing codes and removes the "less prizes" language.
Though staff described this tax ordinance as mere housekeeping, local business owner Carolyn Kenyon, who runs , told Council that it needs to look at the whole code because taxing small businesses on money that they don't receive is unfair.
Councilman Jim Hogan responded that it would be something to look further into -- taxing gross receipts versus payout, but Councilman Rich Elfers, who heads Council's Finance Committee, said the issue would have to be put off until next year as city administration has a full plate.
City Administrator Mike Thomas agreed that staff needs to do some homework on how other cities handle the tax in order to have a full discussion.
Kenyon said she's had to reduce sales and cut back on her work force to accommodate the tax. "I hope the city can take into consideration that the tax is unfair and almost impossible to pay -- especially in this economy."