Two options floating for city leaders to handle stadium fund - Cincinnati News, Weather, Sports from FOX19 NOW-WXIX

Tax hike may be in Hamilton County's future

HAMILTON COUNTY, OH (FOX19) -

Hamilton County Commissioners may want to buy some Powerball tickets.

They have one week left to decide how they're going to pay for Paul Brown Stadium and Great American Ball Park in 2013.

The stadium fund started off needing roughly $22 million for next year, but a nearly $9.5 million loan coupled with $5.5 million in anticipated casino revenue drops the gap down to $7 million.

In our commitment to balanced news and showing all sides of a story, we looked at the two options that have been floated to pay off next year's debt.

  • The County Administrator suggests taking back the entire property tax rollback that was promised to taxpayers when they voted in 1996 to build the stadiums.

or

  • On Wednesday, Commissioner Todd Portune floated the idea of boosting the county sales tax from 6.5 percent to 6.75 percent instead.

Bottom line with either plan: taxpayers will foot the bill.

So, what would a quarter percent tax hike mean to consumers?

Well, for every $100 in merchandise you buy, like a Reds team jersey, it would mean an extra $0.25 in sales tax.

Commissioner Portune says a tax hike is the best option.

"The only way that we're going to have enough revenues for next year and then long term is to identify a new revenue source," said Portune.

Portune says at this point there is no painless way out of the deficit.

"There are really two options and only two options for that. It's either to eliminate the property tax rollback which was a commitment to residential property owners in Hamilton county when the sales tax was adopted, or it is to correct and adjust the sales tax to bring in the amount of dollars that it was projected to bring in," said Portune.

Mark Quarry with the Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors says the property tax rollback should be off limits. "To other than fully fund it or continue that rollback is unfair because it's placing an additional unfair burden exclusively on property owners in Hamilton County.

Portune favors the tax hike and says other stakeholders need to pitch in.

"We need everybody who benefits from the stadium to play a role here and that includes the teams. They've got to step up as well, and they've got to contribute in a meaningful way as well, either in the form of contributing revenues or reducing costs and expense or relieving us from certain obligations or some combination of all three."

County Auditor Dusty Rhodes says everybody saw this crisis coming and thinks it's unfortunate that the commissioners waited until the last minute to cobble together a solution.

Copyright 2012 WXIX. All rights reserved.

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