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Supporters, opponents talk icon tax
SHARONVILLE, Ohio (Angenette Levy) -- An overflow crowd filled the Sharonville Convention Center Wednesday night to voice opinions on a proposed icon tax that supporters want on the November ballot.
The 0.25 percent sales tax hike would pay for repairs to Music Hall and Union Terminal. The city of Cincinnati - which owns Music Hall - would pledge $10 million. Members of the Cultural Arts Task Force have raised $40 million in private donations for the repairs that could cost as much as $341 million. The sales tax hike would sunset after nine years.
"My concern is not only for the two buildings in question but for the occupants of the building: the museum, the symphony, the Pops," a resident from Colerain Township resident.
Two young women told county commissioners about what Music Hall and Union Terminal have meant to them.
"As a child, I used to go to Cincinnati Museum Center at least once a week with my dad. The museum definitely inspired me to become more interested in science at a young age," said a recent Princeton High School graduate named Hannah.
"These places represent the foundation that set Cincinnati apart from other places as a hub of art and culture," a student from Indian Hill High School said.
While the room was filled mostly with supporters of the icon tax, members of several tea party groups attended to offer another plan. The groups, including COAST, called it the Fair Share Approach. They want the cost of repairing Union Terminal split four ways - through user fees, private donations, money paid by the city of Cincinnati and a county sales tax hike. Under that proposal, the sales tax hike would sunset in 2-3 years instead of 9-14 years. The proposal does not include making repairs to Music Hall.
"Why do we not expect all of the stakeholders of the buildings to pay their fair share for the buildings? The first thing that needs to be done is take Music Hall out of the deal. This building is owned by the city of Cincinnati," said Ann Becker, an opponent of the icon tax.
County Commissioners said they are not taking the decision they have to make about placing the tax on the ballot lightly.
"For us it's not as simple as put it on the ballot. We have to wrestle with the impacts of what we do and the effect on other things that are in front of us," Commissioner Todd Portune said.
A second public hearing will be held Monday, July 28, at the county commissioner's meeting room downtown. It will start at 11 a.m.
Commissioners will decide in August whether to place the sales tax hike on the ballot.
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