Putnam County Commissioners heard a request Monday from Ashley Square Cinema owner Frank Katris to assess a per person tax for each person in Putnam County of $5 to 7 to make improvements to the theater.
In exchange for the assessment, county residents could attend movies at the Greencastle theater for free during the week and for $1 on Fridays and Saturdays.
"It could be an economic stimulus to get people to spend more here and in the county," said Katris.
He told commissioners the money from the tax would go toward improvements in the cinema such as a digital projector and 3-D movie equipment.
Katris currently has an arrangement with DePauw University allowing students to attend the theater for free during the week and $1 on weekends. They also receive half-price on concessions. Each student is assessed a $10 fee as part of their student fees. That money goes to the theater.
Commissioner Jim Baird questioned how Katris would make money at the theater.
"I'm banking on earning money with concessions," answered Katris.
Baird also commented that the county was under a considerable financial crunch right now and had other money priorities.
"I wouldn't be asking right now if I didn't think it was something that would help the economy. Movies are something everybody enjoys," added Katris.
According to the theater owner, over 20,000 people visit the business per year.
"I'm hoping to see that number increase three and a half percent. With DePauw we saw about a six times increase," said Katris.
County Attorney Scott Hoff told commissioners he didn't believe they could assess such a tax.
"I don't think you can levy such a tax without looking deeper into it. I don't know for certain but I really doubt it. It probably would need the okay of the county council to do anything," remarked Hoff.
Commissioners tabled the request until Hoff could do some further research.