There's an effort underway to prevent taxes to fund new stadiums in Hamilton County. Activist Jeff Capell and attorney Tim Mara have started a group called No More Stadium Taxes. They told county commissioners they don't want the owners of FC Cincinnati or U.S. Bank Arena to receive "corporate welfare" to build new facilities.
There are no formal proposals to use tax money for a new stadium for the soccer club or to revamp the aging U.S. Bank Arena. Mara says it's important for opponents to such deals to start their work "early."
"When those organizations say they want a public-private partnership, what they really mean is they want the public to pay their expenses while they keep the revenues," Capell said. "If the billionaires who own FC Cincinnati and U.S. Bank Arena believe these are good investments, they are free to spend their own money and start building."
Both Capell and Mara have opposed and criticized Hamilton County's existing stadium tax. Voters approved a ballot measure in 1996 to increase the sales tax by a half percent to pay for Great American Ball Park and Paul Brown Stadium. The tax pays for the bonds sold to build the two facilities. Sales tax revenue hasn't been as high as predicted and the bonds haven't been paid off.
Mara said the stadium tax and the terms connected to it have negatively affected Hamilton County.
"It's impacted… the budget and your ability to respond to other needs. The last thing the county needs right now is to take on another burden that is so narrowly focused when there are so many needs in the county that just can't be met," Mara said. "This, I think, is a rather low priority and should not be supported by the county commissioners or any other government entity."
Board President Todd Portune thanked Capell and Mara for their comments, but offered no opinion.