Board members argue for levy approval for Museum Center - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Board members argue for levy approval for Museum Center

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -

With plaster falling and bricks bulging, Museum Center board members argued their case to Hamilton County Commissioners Monday to levy 150 million dollars in bonds for building repairs. The measure, if approved, would be placed on the November ballot for voters to weigh in on.

"It is something that we must do because the building is slowly but surely deteriorating and it's something that cannot wait," argued Board Chairman Otto Budig. "We have the ideal opportunity. We have an opportunity for some 1200 jobs, we have an opportunity for financing at a reasonable low rate and the amount of money we need will never be less than it is today."

"If we don't do something substantial and soon I think the long term viability of the building will be in jeopardy," former Board Chair Keith Harrison added.

On the other side of the issue, however, is the argument that while the cost to fix the historic landmark is lower, it may still be too high to justify.

"Everybody feels Union Terminal is an icon it's a historical asset to our community," County Commissioner Chris Monzel said."But during this time how do we financially pull this off when we have other buildings and other problems that we face as a county that financially we can't afford?"

Commissioner Monzel says he is willing to look at the options, but says he is not sold yet on going to the taxpayers for more money.

"If we had to vote on it today I just couldn't support it given the current economic environment," Monzel said.

Across the street from the commissioners' offices one food vendor owner said he would vote the same way. "I think taxes are too high already and I think the government is already spending money in bad places," Shane Gaskins said.

Gaskins feels strongly that the county cannot take on any additional tax burden.

"There's just so many other important things that we need tax money for," he argued. "The Museum Center just isn't one of them now."

If the Museum Center generates the money, they say no more repairs would be needed for another 80 to 90 years.

Some taxpayer argue, however, that they are already supporting the facility enough through the 2009 levy used to pay for operating costs of the city-owned building.

The levy would cost the owner of a 100,000 property roughly 10 dollars a year for 30 years.

The Museum Center's CEO says the building is safe despite of the repairs needed to replace rusted steel beams that are forcing bricks and other materials off of the historic building due to water damage.

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