Council Members: Increase Admissions Tax To Fund Human Services And Neighborhoods

Jun 21, 2018

Updated: Thursday, 12:40 p.m.

Two Cincinnati council members introduced a proposal Thursday that would ask voters to increase the city's admissions tax by 2 percent, with the additional money generated used to fund human services organizations and neighborhoods.

Right now, the city's admissions tax is 3 percent. If council places the tax hike on the ballot, and voters approve it, the rate would go to 5 percent. The higher tax could mean a $50 ticket for an entertainment or sport event would cost $1 more, and a $100 ticket could increase by $2.

"It would create a new revenue stream of approximately $3.6 million, which in this proposal would go exclusively to United Way administered Human Services Funding, and to neighborhoods, specifically to the Community Council’s Neighborhood Support Program, and to the CDC Association of Cincinnati, which is the umbrella organization for the community development corporations that are revitalizing neighborhoods all across the city, from Price Hill to Avondale, Walnut Hills to Madisonville," said P.G. Sittenfeld, council member and one supporter of the plan.

Human services programs funded through the United Way process would get $3 million; neighborhood community council would get $400,000; and $200,000 would go to the CDC Association of Cincinnati, as it does neighborhood development work.

"This is a new source of revenue that allows us to make sure that human services get the support that they deserve, that neighborhood groups get the support that they deserve," said council member David Mann, who joined Sittenfeld in supporting the proposal.

In their motion, Sittenfeld and Mann said that rate would still be lower than other Ohio cities. They cite Cleveland at 8 percent; 5.5 percent in Youngstown; and Monroe in Butler County at 5 percent.  The Cleveland Plain Dealer did a story in 2017 looking at admissions taxes across the state, and found Cleveland had the highest rate.

Mann and Sittenfeld also said a large part of the additional tax would be paid by non-city residents who attend entertainment events in Cincinnati.

In their motion, the two said "most not-for-profits are and will remain exempt (including universities and non-profit theater)."

At one time, human services organizations were allotted 1.5 percent of the city's general fund budget. But that policy has not been followed for years because of massive budget deficits. Several council members want to increase the amount of money these agencies get in the upcoming city budget to 1 percent, which would total about $4 million.

Besides Sittenfeld and Mann, four other council members will have to support the charter amendment to increase the admissions tax.  It takes six votes to place such measures on the ballot.