Recently the Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC) informed the Hamilton County Commissioners that they will seek a massive countywide property tax levy for a $141 million repair of the Union Terminal building. The final cost will be nearly double that number when including 30 years of interest payments. In other words, this request would cost county residents over $250 million to fix a building that the Auditor values at $24 million.
One key fact not getting the attention it deserves - the Union Terminal is owned by the City of Cincinnati. Hamilton County does not own the building.
In light of this fact, it is puzzling why the CMC continues to expect Hamilton County residents to pay this enormous expense. This is Cincinnati's building and Cincinnati's problem. The city needs to take the lead role and pay for most or all of the costs of maintaining their property.
As you may recall, the CMC made the same request of the County Commissioners last summer and failed to pick up any support. The Commissioners made it clear that they were not going to support a proposal that required the county to pay most of the costs. The CMC was told they need to seek funding from other sources, such as the City of Cincinnati, the private sector, surrounding counties, and corporate partnerships, before coming back to the county.
It is surprising to many of us, then, that the CMC appears poised to make a very similar request to the one that was soundly rejected a few months ago. Not surprisingly, the Commissioners have made it clear again that they will not support such a proposal. My impression is that the Commissioners are unanimously opposed to any plan calling on county residents to shoulder most of the burden.
COAST applauds the Hamilton County Commissioners for protecting county taxpayers from being forced to subsidize the City of Cincinnati. We encourage them to hold firm and continue their efforts to direct county resources to solve the county's many financial challenges. Cincinnati has choices to make. If Cincinnati wants to squander their capital money on a streetcar and wedding atrium, that's their choice, but it doesn't obligate Hamilton County to start fixing Cincinnati's buildings.