Commissioners in debate over stadium funding source
CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -
In 1996, voters agreed to fund Paul Brown Stadium and Great
American Ball Park. Property owners got a tax credit in exchange for increasing
the sales tax by a half cent.
However, sales tax revenues didn't bring in the money
the county had counted on, so for the last few years, Hamilton County Commissioners
have been forced to find other ways to pay for the hefty price tags attached to
the stadium fund.
Commissioners have used different approaches in the past to
come up with the money needed. They sold Drake Hospital in 2011, and in 2012 they
voted 2-1 to cut the rollback in half, forcing property taxpayers to shell out
No one is suggesting raising rates evening more, but other
than that, there's little agreement.
"This year we're starting early. We're going to figure this
out," Commissioner Chris Monzel told FOX19.
They are now looking at two options: Maintain the new tax
rate or reinstate the rollback and find some other solution to collect the cash
needed to keep the stadium fund out of the red.
"I just don't think it's realistic at this point to
reinstate that full rollback. The modeling shows that. If you put it back to
the full amount, we would be in deficit status within a year and that's not
good policy," added Commissioner Greg Hartmann.
Hartmann supports maintaining the higher property tax rate
arguing it balances the fund for five years and gives the county a chance to
refinance bonds and take advantage of increasing sales tax revenues.
"That's not what voters were promised, and I believe very strongly
that the promise that was made should be honored," said Commissioner Todd
Portune was the only commissioner to vote against the tax
rate increase last year. He's advocating to instead spread the tax burden out.
"We have two bad options so you pick the lesser of the two
evils and frankly, the other option is a limited sales tax in a limited
duration," Portune added.
Monzel has a different proposal, which includes reducing
existing property tax levies.
Commissioners have until November to decide what the
property tax rates will be in 2014. They're expected to vote Wednesday on the
new bond assurity through PNC Bank and expect the tax topic will be a part of