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Union Terminal's future: Will board back the levy?

CINCINNATI (Paula Toti) -- Union Terminal stands to gain millions if a sales tax levy passes in November of 2014.
But, the Museum Center's board might not support the levy Hamilton county commissioners passed last week.  The Museum Center board will meet August 13th of 2014 and may or may not decide to back the levy for its benefit.   

Originally the Museum Center wanted in on the plan calling for $331 million to fix up both the Museum Center and Music Hall coming from a quarter percent increase in the sales tax over 14 years.  The plan that came from the commissioners was $170 just for Union Terminal coming in five years.  

Here's where the math can get fuzzy.

$170 million is a lot of money but it may be about $30 million short of what the Museum Center had hoped for in a combined icon tax levy.  The Museum Center was also hoping for a large share of 25 million in state and federal historic tax credits.  There are concerns those credits may be in jeopardy.  They were based on the two projects making a bid for the credits and that application may now be less appealing.  

There's also the issue of private donations.  A task force that proposed the original plan was counting on more than $15 million in private donations.  The Museum Center told Local 12 they've been told from county commissioner Chris Monzel to now expect half that.  

So, possibly, the new math is closer to 50 million less. 

Local 12 left a message for Monzel but didn't hear back from him.  A museum spokesperson said the board would make a decision August 13 on backing a levy if it felt there was enough information to do that.  The board would back the levy if it felt this was an adequate fix for Union Terminal and if there wasn't a chance for a better plan at a later date.

Commissioner Monzel has said the public wouldn't back a levy that included Music Hall.  Both the Republican commissioners voted for the scaled down plan.  Democrat Todd Portune wanted the fix for both buildings.

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