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Commissioners to weigh options for tourism tax revenues

Updated 2pm

When out-of-towners stay in are hotels, Hamilton County benefits from the transit occupancy tax.

The tourist tax was used to build the Cincinnati and Sharonville convention centers. A large portion is still used to cover the debt service on those projects and the rest goes to the Convention and Visitors Bureau to promote tourism.

Monday, the County Administration laid out options to County Commissioners for pulling back some of those revenues and using them elsewhere.

Assistant County Administrator Jeff Aluotto says, "We're going to be providing the board with some options that in addition to continuing to provide significant support to the Convention and Visitors Bureau, would give the Commissioners the flexibility to also provide some revenue to various capital projects throughout the county that help enhance the vibrancy and fabric of  the broader convention infrastructure."

Last year, the excess funds amounted to about $1.2 to 1.3 million. Aluotto says the proposal is to give $1 million to the CVB and pull back about $250,000 for tourism related infrastructure projects.

Commissioner Greg Hartmann wonders if that's enough to make a big impact.

"We don't just want to be doing a lot of little projects," says Hartmann. "If you do little projects every year, you lose the potential to do bigger projects and reduce the overall impact of the dollars."

Hartmann says he wants to get some perspective from CVB leaders on how allowing them to continue keeping the extra funds might help them land bigger conventions.

Fellow commissioner Todd Portune says he's not in favor of letting the CVB keep all the excess funds.

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.