COAST on 'icon tax': Remember the stadium deal

Jul 7, 2014


An anti-tax group is arguing that Hamilton County taxpayers shouldn't be asked to vote on a proposed sales tax increase for Union Terminal and Music Hall.

The Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes, or COAST, says the current proposal to fix up Music Hall and Union Terminal isn't fair to county taxpayers and needs to be more thoroughly vetted. And the group wants Music Hall removed from any proposed tax increase.

"If the plan on the table is implemented," says COAST's Jeff Capell, "this could easily become Hamilton County's third and fourth stadiums."

Capell also says the buildings belong to Cincinnati, so the city should shoulder the bulk of the cost for repairing them, not county taxpayers.

"If Cincinnati wants to squander their money on a streetcar rather than renovate their museums, that's their choice,'' Capell says. "But Hamilton County residents shouldn't have to pay higher taxes because of it."

The task force behind the sales tax recommendation meets with the county's Tax Levy Review Committee Tuesday and had no immediate comment following COAST's presentation.

Two public hearings are set for later this month:

  • July 23 at 6:30 p.m. at Sharonville Convention Center
  • July 28 at 11 a.m. at Hamilton County Administration Building


Statement from Cultural Facilities Task Force

Bob McDonald, Chair

Re: July 7, 2014 COAST presentation to Hamilton County Board of County Commissioners

The Cultural Facilities Task Force reviewed all of the alternatives COAST has suggested as “Plan Improvements.” None of these are new ideas. These are issues the Task Force of 22 experts looked at in our eight months of evaluation.

We saw great value to address Music Hall and Union Terminal together, and we proposed a plan that is fair — a third from philanthropic gifts and tax credits, a third from residents of the county, and a third from non-residents.

We have worked with national Historic Tax Credit experts in developing a plan to generate $45 million in revenue with would also result in nongovernmental ownership.

The Task Force has raised the private dollars and will continue to do so.

Importantly, these private contributions have been made contingent on the task force plan being executed on schedule with a public vote in November.

Continuing to raise the same ideas that have already been studied and determined will do nothing but delay the resolution of this long standing issue.

We must act now.

Delaying is costly to the taxpayers.

The cost has been extensively reviewed by independent reviewers (hired by Hamilton County Tax Levy Review Committee in 2009 and is underway again now in 2014).

The Task Force is also an independent group, called for by the TLRC, and we are making a recommendation that the funds be used exclusively for these two buildings for a fixed period of time. This is not an open-ended commitment.

The city has already committed $10 million for Music Hall, and we would like to see a further contribution for the Dalton Street and bridge repairs.

We are studying a Ticket Tax so users of the facilities have a little more invested in the projects, but the proceeds will not be substantial.

COAST calling for the city to contribute $100M is aimed at creating divisiveness in our community. It is a political fight intended to punish the city.

Politics should have no part in this, the failure to fund Music Hall and Union Terminal punishes our community.

We have recommended an optimal plan. It engages private donors. It is for a legally binding fixed period of time. It engages non-Hamilton County residents and lowers property taxes for Hamilton County residents.

COAST said they are not opposed to a responsible plan, this is a responsible and fair plan, we ask them to support it.

We are committed to getting these buildings restored for the future of our region. Let the voters decide the fate of Union Terminal and Music Hall.