County considering sales tax increase
Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune is recommending a quarter cent sales tax increase to stabilize the stadium fund. His plan would also preserve the full property tax rebate promised to voters in the mid-90's.
The board is dealing with a $7 million gap. The proposal would increase the sales tax from 6.5% to 6.75%. Here's how Hamilton County's sales tax rate compares with Ohio's other 87 counties.
Using current figures, the increase would generate $8 - $16 million the first year because April 1, 2013 would be the earliest the county could start collecting the tax. After that projections estimate returns of about $33 million per year.
Commission President Greg Hartmann says he doesn't like the idea of raising taxes but will consider the idea. He does favor finding a long-term solution to the stadium fund issue and concedes a sales tax increase might be the only option.
Both Portune and Hartmann says the Cincinnati Bengals and Reds also need to help contribute to a solution.
Commissioner Chris Monzel, however, does not like the plan and says he would vote against it. He's considering not funding Phase Two of the Banks project and lowering the county reserve policy to deal with the current deficit.
Monzel's also working on an idea to make Paul Brown Stadium the home field for the University of Cincinnati football team. A new tenant would generate revenue and he says several other NFL stadiums, like Pittsburgh, have deals with universities. He says the plan would benefit UC as it looks to move to a new sports conference.
Commissioners thought they'd avoided a stadium fund problem earlier this year by taking out a type of insurance policy. However, it came out a few weeks ago that the fund wouldn't be solvent after all.