Organizations asks for tax levies

By Dan Wells - bio | email

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The Hamilton County library system and the Cincinnati Museum Center are just some of the organizations trying to get funding through levies.

On Monday, these groups took their message to county leaders. A review committee made up of area residents held a meeting in hopes of directing county commissioners about how big several levies should be. There is one that affects Union Terminal, and other that ultimately affects your wallet.

It was a packed house at the Hamilton County Tax Levy Review Committee meeting. What's on the table is up to $570 million in taxpayer money.

The Tax Levy Review Committee is made up of nine Hamilton County residents who study each levy request before it gets on the ballot.

The group advises county commissioners on what they feel the appropriate level of revenue should be, how long the levy should last, and how to balance the needs for funding by various levy agencies versus the tax burden on the home and business owners.

"It's strictly advisory," said Timothy Molony, chair of the Tax Levy Review Committee. "We try to take some of the work of the commissioner and try to get give the citizens of the county the feel that someone else is looking at what is going to be in front of them at the ballot box."

The Public Library system in Hamilton County will ask voters in November for a $1 mill, five-year tax levy. That would generate about $100 million, for operations and maintenance. Its something officials say is crucial.

"If we don't get the levy the library system is going to look completely different then what you have today," said Kim Fender with the Hamilton County Public Library.

Now, the library doesn't need the support of this commission to put the levy on the ballot, but still pleaded its case to the public.

"The cost of this levy is actually less than the cost of buying one book in a year, so it's a really good value for people who use the library," said Fender.

And if Hamilton County voters don't fund the issue, "There will be many fewer locations. The hours will be shorter we won't have the dept and breath or collection that we offer today so it would be dramatically different then what we have today," said Fender.

The committee is also recommending the Cincinnati Museum Center get either an $18 million , five-year levy for operating costs, or a $33 million five-year operating and capital improvements levy.

"It's the smallest tax levy in Hamilton County. It's no more than one third of one percent, and it makes enormous impact," said Douglass W. McDonald with the Museum Center.

The two other levies are up for debate are the Hamilton County Board of Developmental Disabilities - the review committee recommended about a $400 million over five years - and a $35 million five year levy for Family Services and Treatment, formerly called the Drake Levy.

In most cases, the final levy amounts must be approved by Hamilton County commissioners to get on the ballot.

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