CHICAGO — Commissioners in Hamilton County, Ohio, are expected to consider a proposal Nov. 20 to restore part of a property tax rebate that the county has repeatedly cut in order to fund two of the city's sports stadiums.
A Republican commissioner on the three-member county board introduced a plan Monday that would restore part of a property tax rebate, saying the county could afford it while still funding the stadiums.
The county, which includes Cincinnati, promised the tax rebate as part of a deal in 1996 to get voters to approve a sales tax increase to fund the stadiums' construction.
The sales tax fund has reportedly improved, opening the window for a partial restoration of the property tax rebate, according to local reports. The board eliminated part of the rebate in 2011 but restored in it 2012, funding it with the sale of the county-owned safety net hospital for $15 million.
A Democratic commissioner has proposed an increase in the sales tax to help fund the stadiums.
The county in 1998 and 2000 floated $674 million of bonds to finance construction of the Great American Field and Paul Brown Stadium, where Major League Baseball's Cincinnati Reds and the National Football League's Cincinnati Bengals play.
To raise money for the stadiums, voters in 1996 approved a half-cent sales tax increase. The county promised an annual property tax rebate if the measure passed.
The sales tax fund has fallen for years, but grew again last year.
Investors who hold some of the remaining $558 million of bonds are considered protected as the debt features a gross-revenue pledge that elevates debt service above all other obligations, including operating costs. The bond agreement also requires Ohio to deliver all of Hamilton County's sales tax revenue directly to the bond trustee, who then releases the remainder back to the county.