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Bonnaroo representative Sam Reed spoke Tuesday to the county Budget and Finance Committee asking the county not to pass an event tax that the committee has recommended and will be on Tuesday, Sept. 14 full Commission meeting agenda. 

“I know there is a certain amount of animosity in this room toward what we did earlier this year in asking the city to annex the property,” Reed said.

Reed said that the annex was not something the festival wanted to do, but that the county failed to follow through with a road project that the state had approved for a grant that would widen New Bushy Branch Road. The Festival has earlier expressed that the road project was crucial to the viability of the property for Bonnaroo due to the permanent closure of “Exit 112.”

“We did that (annex) for our own survival,” Reed said.

Reed told the committee that the $5 tax is problematic with the festival.

“As part of the annexation we agreed to a similar tax with the city. If you recall that was always part of our negotiations with the county,” Reed said.

The original Bonnaroo contract expired in 2017 and the negotiations floundered in subsequent years leading up to the annex.   

Reed brought a legal opinion that the county’s authority to levy the tax was invalid without specific state authorization similar to the hotel/motel tax. He said that the festival will ask the city to repeal its current ticket tax.

“As for protecting ourselves from unlimited taxation…we will have to challenge the tax in court,” Reed said, noting that the festival has secured legal representation to do that. “The legal rational is shaky at best.”  

At that meeting, a motion by commissioner Lynn Sebourn to halt the recommendation to the full commission died for lack of second. The full commission will address the tax on Tuesday, Sept. 14.   

During a recent meeting of the Coffee County Budget and Finance Committee, county officials passed a resolution that would implement a tax on the sale of entertainment tickets.

Though not directly targeting Bonnaroo, the festival that is the center of a lawsuit between the county and city, figured heavily in the discussion. 

At the July 20 meeting, committee members looked over and discussed the resolution that would impose a tax on the sale, resale or issuance of entertainment admission, tickets, tokens or bracelets.

According to Commissioner Bobby Bryan, the resolution presented basically mirrors the ticket tax ordinance the Manchester City Board of Mayor and Aldermen passed in May, which will implement a tax on the sale or issuance of tickets to certain entertainment events over 350 persons.

After discussion, the motion passed unanimously.

   The resolution as proposed applies to entertainment gatherings of an attendance of at least 500. Admission costs of $100 will be taxed $1, $101-$299 will be taxed $2, $300-$399 will be taxed $3 and $400 and over will be taxed $5. The basic General Admission costs $349 plus a $60 car camping pass and additional fees and charges.    


John has been with the Manchester Times since May 2011. John has won Tennessee Press Association awards for Best News Photo and placed in numerous other categories. John is a 1994 graduate of Tullahoma High School, a graduate of Motlow State Community College and earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Middle Tennessee State University. He lives in Tullahoma, enjoys painting, dancing and exploring the outdoors.

Staff Writer

Download the free Manchester Times mobile app at the app store. John has won Tennessee Press Association awards for Best News Photo and placed in numerous other categories.

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