And wants to exempt themselves from the county's tax levy review process
The Commissioners have to deal with a last-minute request from The Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC) to sneak a massive $300 million levy on the ballot. The CMC is seeking approximately $300 million (principal plus interest) to repair one building. As we noted in the last item, each Commission-controlled levy is required to go through their tax levy review process.
Shockingly, The CMC is disrespecting this process and expects the Commissioners to place their huge levy on the ballot without undergoing a formal review. COAST strongly opposes this request. Any entity seeking taxpayer money must go through a thorough review process before being placed on the ballot.
Due to The CMC's efforts to bypass the county's long-established review process, the Commissioners will have to make a decision without the ability to gather the facts. Therefore, the only responsible course of action is to deny the request for 2011, and invite the CMC to resubmit their proposal to the county in 2012 so that it may undergo the county's formal review process.
There are many substantive concerns as well. Tax dollars are finite, and $300 million is an extreme amount of money to repair one building. What happens if, a few years into the repair project, they "find" another $100 million in needed repairs? That scenario is fairly likely given that this is a building constructed in 1933 with major design flaws. Who would be responsible for the cost overruns? Taxpayers can't afford another Bengals stadium situation.
It should also be noted that the owner of this building is the City of Cincinnati. Yet county taxpayers are being asked, once again, to subsidize a city project. The county needs to ask itself why they are involved in this issue. Between $700 million to cover the stadium fund deficit and $300 million for this city building, Hamilton County taxpayers are facing $1 billion of higher taxes for toy buildings that don't serve any core government function. There are many questions that must be answered before the Commission can even consider advancing this issue to the ballot.