Mayor Chris Jensen said Ruoff Music Center is a defining partner in the City of Noblesville, and the entertainment venue isn’t immune from the negative economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Canceled performances because of social distancing guidelines will result in a lack of ticket tax dollars for the city.
“They draw hundreds of thousands of visitors to Noblesville on an annual basis,” Jensen said. “We partner with them every year on different improvements, whether that’s infrastructure, signage, you name it. Decades ago, before my time, there was a deal struck there where they pay a ticket tax to us, a seat tax per individual in the concert season and that goes into the (tax increment financing district) formed in that area to be reinvested in that area.”
The minimum annual baseline for the tax from Ruoff is $300,000, but some years it has reached approximately $700,000. In 2019, the city received $388,664. In 2018, it received $718,319 in admission tax revenue.
The dollars are used to make debt service payments to the Economic Development Lease Rental Refunding Bonds of 2012, Series B. So far, proceeds from the debt have been used to fund new roads and sewer infrastructure improvements in and around Exit 210 on I-69, the primary access route to Ruoff Music Center.
Although the city won’t collect the ticket tax this year, it still has deep reserves it can use to pay bond obligations in the TIF area.
“Just like every TIF allocation has bond obligations, there are bonds we are paying out of the TIF district, whether that’s infrastructure,” Jensen said. “Any dip in revenue is never welcome news, but we have healthy reserves in our TIF allocations across the city and can make the payments. It’s something unique to us. Every city has some kind of different organization they’re linked to, and there are different ways we are all impacted.
“We’ve been prudent financially and budgeted accordingly to never rely on those dollars, and it’s certainly never great news when that revenue dips, but we will support Ruoff as an economic driver and oftentimes the front door to our city.”