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No decision yet on tax to save Music Hall and Museum Center

CINCINNATI (Jeff Hirsh) -- On the heels of LumenoCity time is running out to decide the fate of a tax to fix up Music Hall and Union Terminal.
Any person who buys anything in Hamilton County will be affected.  After another day of talk there was still no decision on whether people living in the county will vote on a sales tax increase.

The idea was a quarter cent sales tax hike to put the Museum Center at Union Terminal and Music Hall back into good repair.  The buildings are old and have serious maintenance issues.  The tax would be for both structures but county commissioner Chris Monzel (R) said take Music Hall out and use the tax hike for Union Terminal only.

"We must be prudent and put before the voters the best proposal which protects out county and our citizens.  I call that lessons learned from the stadium sales tax issue from 1996," said Monzel.
Commissioner Todd Portune seemed ready to put the tax for both buildings on the ballot.  As long as there was a user-fee attached to every ticket.  Portune said that could bring in 10 percent of the $330 million cost.  So assuming the vote now is 1-1 that leaves Commissioner Greg Hartmann as the swing vote.

Hartmann said, "Certainly I support the concept of the public having a vote on what happens to these facilities, but which proposal will they get to vote on?  That's why we're spending so much time because granting ballot access, you have to be careful what you let go on the ballot."

Hartmann said he wanted city council to increase its commitment to the project.  Council's finance committee Monday added $10 million to the $10 million already committed. A representative for commissioner Hartmann said he wanted the city to come up with more, although Hartmann was not ready to drop Music Hall and go with Museum Center only.
With the commission vote scheduled for Wednesday, it looked like there would be some high stakes negotiations between the city and the county if the tax plan for both buildings goes on the ballot.

A quarter-cent sales tax hike for both buildings would cost the average consumer about $23 a year.

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