Hamilton County property taxes going up to boost stadium fund - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Hamilton County property taxes going up to boost stadium fund

By Stefano DiPietrantonio – bio |email|Facebook

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Hamilton County commissioners have reached an agreement with the Reds and Bengals to help solve a budget shortfall. They also have voted to increase property taxes for Hamilton County residents.

"We did get commitments from the teams and I think everybody's grateful for that," said Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune. "But in my mind, the commitments were not enough to be able to invade the property tax rollback."

The Reds and the Bengals would contribute about $10 million toward the struggling stadium fund.

Asking taxpayers in one county to support two stadiums that are enjoyed by people from multiple counties is never a good way to start a brand new year.

But Commissioners said the action taken Wednesday was the only way to keep the county from slipping any further into a fiscal emergency.

"We have very tough choices as a Board to make and need to make sure the stadium fund remains solvent," Portune said.

Commissioner Portune had wanted a temporary sales tax, which would have spread the commitment around to all Bengals and Reds fans.

"I don't support Commissioner Portune's plan though, to raise the sales tax," said Commissioner Greg Hartmann.

"Nuts and bolts," Portune said. "No sales tax increase."

Instead, they approved a $13.5 million reduction in the property tax rollback for next year.

So, a property owner in Hamilton County whose home is worth $100,000 will likely pay about $40 to $45 more in taxes next year.

"The team contributions just simply did not rise to that level," Portune said. "Where I could in good conscience, ask property owners to give up the rollback."

The property tax passed by a vote of 2 to 1, with Portune being the 'no' vote.

"Coming from the Bengals," Portune said. "They also wanted concessions, they wanted to cap what the County receives from other event revenue, they wanted the County to give-up any entitlement we have to reap money from naming rights at the stadium and I couldn't support that."

On paper, neither team is truly obligated to contributing to the stadium fund in any way.

"Is it everything we want from them? Absolutely not," Hartmann said. "We have no leverage in these negotiations however and were we to pass a sales tax? We would have less leverage than none."

"The Bengals wanted to approach this from the standpoint of rent and the Reds will have a ticket increase of a quarter in 2012 but nothing next year," Portune said.

"We have no wiggle room," said Commissioner David Pepper and what used to be a surplus of 10% in the fund, is now at zero.

"To vote to give out the full PTR," Pepper said. "We know the money's not there, it would simply be irresponsible."

So, it was an unpopular vote. And at FOX19, we've already heard from viewers who saw our story at 6 p.m. One caller said he's never been to a Reds or Bengals game and yet his property taxes are going up to pay for a stadium he will never likely step foot in. 

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