Saturday, July 18, 2009

Pepper, Portune Reneging on Tax Rollback

In yet another tragic breach of faith with Hamilton County voters, Commissioners Pepper and Portune yesterday leaked to the Cincinnati Business Courier their intention to get rid of the property tax rollback that induced County voters to approve the 1/2 cent sales tax increase for two new stadiums.

"It is a breach of faith - and a solemn pledge that both Portune and Pepper made with the voters - to do away with the property tax rollback," said COAST Chairman Jason Gloyd. "Portune and Pepper are not just increasing our taxes, they are breaking their word. We can never trust government again."

The Pepper/Portune plan is to repeal some or all of the stadium property tax rollback. The rollback was promised to voters as a part of the 1996 half cent stadium sales tax increase. Both Pepper and Portune have promised the voters that the rollback was sacrosanct. "We cannot go back on a promise made to taxpayers over a decade ago," said Commissioner David Pepper in this article. "While we have to tackle our tough budget issues, we cannot do so by raising property taxes."
"Far beyond a debate over tax policy (and we're striving to keep taxes as low as possible), this is a much more fundamental issue of basic governance, and adhering to the clear consent of the governed. In that light, I consider any move to divert dollars from the PTR to be a deeply illegimate act. It lacks fundamental integrity. And it's simply not an option."
-David Pepper, PepTalk Blog, Nov 18, 2008
If this promise is broken, commissioners will be increasing property taxes without a vote of the people. This is the second time these two liberal commissioners have increased taxes without a vote -- they did it in 2007 with the Super Sized jail 1/2 cent sales tax hike that was repealed by the voters and the coalition. The increase became needed because of continued profligate over-spending by the Commission, especially on the bloated Banks project.

This is but the latest heartbreaking disappointment from the stadium sales tax debacle:
  • The project has run overbudget, and repayment accounts have been in deficit for years.
  • The Bengals lease was an unprecedented ripoff of taxpayers, and the worst professional sports lease nationally.
  • The state of Ohio reneged on its promised contribution.
  • The tax has been extended beyond the date originally promised.
  • Sales tax projections were intentionally over-stated.
  • Ultimately the Bengals hired Commissioner Bob Bedinghaus, who negotiated the lease, at a six-figure salary.
  • "The Banks" was originally supposed to be an added bonus to restore nightlife to the riverfront after Sleepout Louies, Porky's and The Old Spaghetti Factory were wasted during stadium construction, but it has since morphed into a mammoth boondoggle more expensive than both stadiums combined.
  • City and county governments conspired to bury another train station in the project, despite the fact that we have no passenger rail transportation. Then they left no way to get trains into or out of it, wasting $42 million.
"This massive ripoff of the taxpayers continues to this day," said Gloyd, "and Portune and Pepper are the latest politicians to screw the taxpayers in this endless tragedy."

COAST is encouraging voters to flood the County Commission Offices with faxes, letters, e-mails and phone calls on Monday.

David Pepper(513) 946-4409(513) 946-4407
Todd Portune(513) 946-4401(513) 946-4446
Greg Hartmann(513) 946-4405(513) 946-4404


  1. Actually, there is a way to get trains in and out of the Riverfront Transit Center. The right of Ways on the western and eastern end are owned and secured by the city and could be used for rail transit if needed. If the Eastern Corridor rail project is approved, it would utilize the transit center and the oasis line running through sawyer point and beyond, which is currently owned by SORTA.

    Just a correction to be made in your blog post as there is a way to get trains in and out of it.

  2. What do you Coasters want the government to do, cut spending? We can't have that.

    We have updated our blog to endorse this tax increase and show the error of your arguments. Just because a promise was made in 1996 doesn't mean it has to be upheld in 2009. This is politics, and in politics promises are made to be broken.

    We expect our County Commissioners to implement this necessary property tax increase.

  3. Anon 7/19/09 1:10am

    Get a Horse....they're cheaper. Then you liberal/socialists will always have plenty of crap to spread around

  4. Don't let Boone Co Judge No Moore see your comments, 'Republicans for Higher Taxes'.

    He's never seen a tax or a big spending scam that he didn't like.

  5. Anonymous,
    We understood that the safety and feasibility of the Boathouse to RTC link was still a big issue to be resolved. Weren't those the top 2 goals of the public meeting held on July 9?

    North alternantives seem to endanger pedestrians along Pete Rose Way, a considerable problem on game days. South alternatives route trains through the Bicentennial Commons' playground, within arm's reach of the Concourse Fountains, and through numerous pedestrian paths. Loop alternatives have both problems.

    If there's a concert or other event at "Pamper's Pavilion," what effect will chugging a heavy deisel locamotive through the crowd have?

    As you say, the rights-of-way are under City control. But the practicality of using them remains very much up in the air.

  6. COAST, if you're talking about Diesel locomotives, yes, there would be a considerable obstacle to overcome. While the Transit Center is equipped to deal with the proper venting of diesel buses and trains I believe the current option being pursued would utilize light rail systems similar to the MAX system in Portland or the new system in Seattle. These light rail vehicles can travel at grade and share right of ways with vehicular traffic.

  7. ^See page 4 of this link.

    "The proposed technology for the Eastern Corridor rail transit is Diesel Multiple Units (DMU), which consists of several transit cars that operate on diesel engines (do not require overhead electrical systems) and can run on existing track, thereby reducing start-up and operating costs."

    The light rail systems you reference are in fact electric, so yes there are considereable obstacles. Riverside residents have already complained about diesel locamotives in their neighborhood.

  8. Can you quote (post) the part of the Courier article you are referring to ? It's not in the snippet offered to non subscribers.

  9. OK, read the article. It never says,"Pepper, Portune Reneging on Tax Rollback ".
    It never says, "Commissioners Pepper and Portune yesterday leaked to the Cincinnati Business Courier their intention to get rid of the property tax rollback that induced County voters to approve the 1/2 cent sales tax increase for two new stadiums."
    In fact, it does say Pepper and Portune said NOTHING.

  10. Quim,
    Who does Christian Sigman report to? How often does he make press statements which blatantly contradict the publicly-stated positions of his superiors? That's not healthy for his career, unless he's acting as their lightning rod.

    This was a trial balloon, plain and simple, to see if Pepper and Portune could get away with abandoning their previous positions. Looks like they're more driven by polling than principle.

  11. Once again democrats are being coy with their intentions to raise our taxes. A lot of voters only agreed to the stadium deal because if the property tax rollback. Hopefully this will be a lesson that all voters. Don't trust them with your wallet! don't believe them when they say the tax increase will be temporary, or when they say the tax decrease will be permanent


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