Mayor: County didn't live up to their end of deal in Icon Levy

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley is calling out Hamilton County Commissioners, saying they didn't live up to their end of the deal when choosing to exclude Music Hall from the Icon Levy.

Hamilton County Commissioners voted 2 to 1 Wednesday to add a quarter-cent county sales tax hike to the November ballot to help pay for the restoration of Union Terminal, but denied Music Hall from that levy.

Prior to the vote, County Commissioners asked the City for funding support for the Icons, according to Cranley. The Mayor said he initially denied the county's request but later agreed "in the spirit of compromise" to get Music Hall on the November ballot, he told FOX19.

"I was willing to broker a compromise when I had to give money that was hard to give up to support the deal to include Music Hall," said the mayor.

Cranley and Council pledged Monday the city would commit $10 million, or $400,000 for the next 25 years, towards Music Hall renovations.

[Read the official ordinance: City pledges $10 million to Music Hall]

Two of the three commissioners, Chris Monzel and Greg Hartmann (R), expressed that the city's pledged funding was not enough and voted to add Union Terminal to the ballot, but discarded Music Hall.

"We lived up to our end of the deal and I just wish the County had," Cranley told FOX19.

"I was always skeptical about Music Hall being part of this deal. I have no criticism for the city. After all it is a city owned building," Hartman said. He described the request to include Music Hall in the tax levy as a "bridge too far."

Commissioner Todd Portune (D) was in support of the original plan to restore both historic buildings.

Wednesday's vote means residents in Hamilton County will vote in November on whether to fund Union Terminal's renovation with the sales tax. If approved, the quarter-cent hike would be in place for about five years.

As for the future of Music Hall, Cranley says private donations will go towards the $100 million needed to fix the building. Cincinnati Symphony officials say the vote will have no impact on the upcoming seasons.

FOX19 NOW's Gordon Graham contributed to this story.

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