MTAs always give members a good ROI

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It’s often things that marine trades associations make certain don’t happen that members overlook when evaluating their membership’s return on investment. And MTAs often fail to adequately make known what they stopped. A good case in point: the Boating Associations of Ohio.

BAO actually scored a hat trick and more as it worked to make certain that dealers in the Buckeye State did not get buried by a series of tax proposals that, combined, would hit them hard.

“The budget proposed by Gov. John Kasich was a triple whammy for our dealers, primarily because we sell big-ticket items,” explained Ken Alvey, BAO executive director. “We worked to make sure they didn’t happen.

Score No. 1 — The governor proposed to cut by 50 percent the tax provision that applies Ohio sales tax only on the difference between the value of a boat being traded in and the purchase price of another boat. BAO had worked for several years to get the “tax on the difference” bill through the Ohio General Assembly in 1996. “Clearly seeing that tax provision cut in half would have hurt our sales and left us less competitive with surrounding states,” said Alvey. “Because it didn’t happen, if we saved even one sale for each member, we delivered a great ROI for their dues.”

Score No. 2 – The governor proposed a hike in Ohio’s commercial activity tax from 0.26 percent to 0.32 percent of the gross receipts from business activities. While all businesses pay that tax, those with high gross receipts from selling big-ticket items like boats will get hit hard by any increase in the rate. Once again BAO, working with other business groups, was successful in making certain the commercial activity tax increase didn’t happen. It kept hundreds of dollars in virtually every member’s pocket.

Score No. 3 – The governor’s plan also included raising the 5.75 percent state sales tax to 6.25 percent. But that, too, didn’t happen as the BAO, in a coalition with many other organizations, vigorously opposed it. Increasing sales taxes by any amount adds another barrier to entry, especially among first-time boaters looking at a large non-essential purchase.

The final budget bill, then, had no changes to the critical trade-in discount language, no increases to the commercial activity tax and no increase in the sales tax. What didn’t happen surely impacts every member’s sales and profits, a true ROI for membership.

Notably, the good news doesn’t end there, either. Not only did Ohio dealers enjoy these three big wins, but Ohio boating also got a boost. Surviving the governor’s record 44 line-item vetoes is an allocation of $29 million for badly needed repairs to the Buckeye Lake Dam and additional funds for dredging Grand Lake St. Marys, both major boating venues in central Ohio.

Guided by lobbyist Amanda Sines and her Capitol Action Team, BAO is the state organization around which all local MTAs rally, and it also includes some representatives of major boat owner organizations. With its inclusive membership, it has built a large pool of talent to appear at hearings and reach lawmakers, as well as administering a PAC.

Bottom line: The actions of our industry’s MTAs, whether influencing public policy or advancing sales and marketing opportunities for members, consistently provide a big return for the invested dues each member pays in. It’s why every dealer should be a member of their local and/or state MTA.

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