A ticket tax discussed during budget season to help raise revenue in York is inching its way forward, a city official said.

But the possible hike in ticket prices that could come with it has some entertainment vendors worried.

Michael O'Rourke, the city's business administrator, said recently that officials continue to plan for the so-called admissions tax, a fee to be levied on tickets sold at city entertainment venues. The solicitor's office is trying to determine what businesses could be subject to the tax, he said.

"We want to be sure that we have clarity before we start taxing people," he wrote in an email.

The tax was slated to raise $150,000 as part of the 2013 budget, though O'Rourke has said that's an estimate.

Still, talk of the tax has brought some concern.

Ken Wesler, CEO of the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center, said while the center is taking a "wait-and-see attitude," there's no doubt a tax would be tough to swallow. The nonprofit already does considerable fundraising to meet its budget, he said.

"Generally, the last thing you want to do is enact policies that are going to chill attendance at local venues," he said.

During fall budgeting, O'Rourke said the fee could raise local ticket prices, but he cautioned such decisions would be up to officials at affected venues. In addition to larger arenas, any place that charges a cover -- such as the ice rink, roller skating rink or bars -- could potentially be subject to the tax, he said.

Frank Quintin, owner of Roll 'R' Way Family Skating Center, said such a tax, if enacted, would force him to raise ticket prices. And with city taxes already high, he said, it would be very disheartening.

"They want to bring businesses into this city," he said, "and then they turn around and tax them to death."

Eric Menzer, president and general manager of the York Revolution, said he's aware of the tax talk. But Menzer said until more details are available, he's concentrating on the upcoming baseball season.

"I'll worry about it if and when there is clarity about what 'it' is," he said in an email, "and I am confident that city officials will communicate directly with us if and when that it is appropriate."

O'Rourke said the act that enables the tax was passed in the 1960s. At some point, he said, the city stopped enforcing it because the costs of enforcement were more than the money collected.

There is currently no timeline for implementation, O'Rourke said. Any such plan will depend on a number of factors, including the advice of the solicitor's office.

"There have been contradictory legal opinions over the years," he said.

Budget issues

York city has struggled in recent years to balance its budget in the face of mounting pension obligations and other costs.

The York City Council hiked taxes for 2011 and 2012 -- by 11 and 17 percent, respectively -- though the council held the line for 2013. Still, fiscal problems remain.

The 2013 budget as passed includes about $200,000 to pay down the recreation fund deficit, and between $100,000 and $500,000 for deficit reduction in the general fund. But those deficits currently stand at $600,000 and $6 million, respectively.

The city is also anticipating a jump in the required contribution to its employee pension fund in 2015, something business manager Michael O'Rourke has said could pose a real financial problem.

"I tend to think it will be significant," he has said of the looming cost increase.

@timstonesifer; 771-2032