'We have the money to do it': Hamilton County owners will get full property tax rebate back this year

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Alicia Reece, vice president of the Hamilton County Commission, during a meeting, Sept. 30, 2021, at the Todd B. Portune Center for County Government in downtown Cincinnati.
Alicia Reece, vice president of the Hamilton County Commission, during a meeting, Sept. 30, 2021, at the Todd B. Portune Center for County Government in downtown Cincinnati.

Hamilton County property owners will, at least for next year, get back what they were promised 25 years ago from the stadium sales tax.

Only twice in the past decade have property owners received what they were promised as a property tax rebate in 1996, when voters approved the 0.5% sales tax to build the riverfront stadiums.

The three county commissioners Thursday unanimously voted to give the full amount back for next year, which is equal to 30% of the revenue generated by the stadium sales tax.

That means property owners will get back $89 per $100,000 of home value.

The county's administration had recommended $28.

The bigger tax break comes after an Enquirer analysis showed increased sales tax revenue has fed a 30% increase in county spending over the past five years.

County Commissioner Alicia Reece pushed for the resolution Thursday to give the full amount of property tax rollback to property owners.

But some commissioners warned this won't likely be the norm.

"I’m proposing we keep the deal with the people, the homeowners, that were promised 30%," Reece said. "We have the money to do it."

But others in the county had concerns.

County administration recommended giving back a smaller portion.

County Administrator Jeff Aluotto said the administration wants to avoid dipping into the general fund to pay the obligations on the stadiums.

How commissioners voted

Giving the full rollback was a tough decision, one that will affect "hundreds of thousands of people," said Stephanie Summerow Dumas, president of the Board of Commissioners.

She couldn't make promises about future years.

"This rate may not be sustainable," Dumas said. "We are still in the middle of a pandemic and we don’t know what else might come our way."

Commissioner Denise Driehaus voted for the resolution, but with reservations. She said sales tax projections show giving the full amount would mean the county would have to dip into the general fund and cut other areas.

Driehaus said she would have preferred gradually increasing the property tax rollback over time.

"This year feels different," Driehaus said. "I know people are struggling. It's been an unusual couple of years for all of us.

I’m willing to support this 30% this year, knowing that in the years in the near future we will not be likely to sustain his this amount."

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Hamilton County to give full property tax rebate for stadiums

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