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Hamilton County officials are considering a slightly higher property tax rebate for 2022

downtown cincinnati
John Minchillo

Hamilton County homeowners will likely get a larger stadium property tax rebate next year, but still not the full amount promised years ago.

County Administrator Jeff Aluotto is recommending $8.5 million for rebates, or about $28 per $100,000 of home value. The rebate is based on sales tax revenue, which Aluotto says has fluctuated a lot over the last ten years.

"We've seen strong sales tax growth this year, which we think is heavily related to some of the stimulus in the economy and some pent-up demand," Aluotto says. "We're not projecting that to continue into next year."

County voters approved a half-cent sales tax increase in 1996 to build Great American Ballpark and Paul Brown Stadium. At the time, officials promised to use 30% of the revenue for property tax rebates. Projections for sales tax growth when the plan was put together were not met, and starting in 2011, county commissioners began reducing the rebate in order to keep the sales tax fund solvent.

It's used to pay maintenance and the debt service on the bonds issued to pay for stadium construction. There could be additional demands on the fund as the stadiums age and need additional upkeep. If the fund runs out of money, the county is still obligated to pay for those things, which would mean taking it out of the general fund.

The $8.5 million recommended for next year is about 10% of revenue, up from last year's 6%. Aluotto says if the county used the full 30%, the fund would have a negative balance in just two years.

Commissioner Denise Driehaus says she's happy to support the recommendation.

"I think it's responsible. I think it makes sense," Driehaus says. "And I think the taxpayers understand that each year, we will try to do a little bit more related to this rollback. But we are not in a position to offer more than has been recommended."

The recommended rebate for next year is about the same as it was in 2020. It's an increase from the most recent rebate, when commissioners reduced it because of the pandemic's impact on sales tax revenue.

The rebate appears on the annual property tax bill. Commission Vice President Alicia Reece says many homeowners may not even realize they're getting a rebate.

"So I want something going to them, a letter or something, saying that you did get a rebate so that they're aware of it," Reece says. "It may not be the percentage that they thought, the 30%, but that they did get something."

Commissioners will vote on the final plan by December 2.

Local Government Reporter with a particular focus on Cincinnati; experienced journalist in public radio and television throughout the Midwest. Enthusiastic about: civic engagement, public libraries, and urban planning.