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Hamilton County homeowners will get a higher stadium tax rebate next year

Bill Rinehart

Hamilton County Commissioners voted Thursday to approve how much money to return to homeowners as a property tax rebate.

When voters passed a half-cent sales tax in 1996 to build and maintain Great American Ball Park and what is now Paycor Stadium, officials promised to give 30% of the revenue back to homeowners as tax rebates. That hasn't happened consistently since 2011 because of budget problems.

Although the vote on this year's rebate was unanimous, President Alicia Reece first tried to get a vote on a higher rebate, using 30% of revenue. Neither of the other two commissioners seconded her motion, so it failed without a vote.

The other two commissioners support Administrator Jeff Aluotto's recommendation of a rebate using 12.4% of collections, about $12.8 million. That's higher than the rebate approved for 2023 (10.5% of revenue, about $9.6 million).

RELATED: County officials are about to start negotiating a new lease for Paycor Stadium

"The good news for the taxpayer is that because we're bringing in more revenue through the sales tax fund, the property tax rebate is going to go up this year, compared to last year," said Commissioner Denise Driehaus in a meeting Tuesday.

A graph showing the percentage and amount of the Hamilton County property tax rebate from 2007 to 2024.
A graph showing the percentage and amount of the Hamilton County property tax rebate from 2007 to 2024.

The fund is used to pay maintenance and the debt service on the bonds issued to pay for stadium construction. 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 recommendation is based on a formula that maintains the fund's balance at about 85% of the maximum annual debt service.

"The PTR [property tax rebate] was a bad promise, in my opinion, along with the bad lease that we got with the Bengals," said Commissioner Stephanie Summerow Dumas. "So we're trying to fulfill some of that promise. We could actually say no PTR, but we have not decided to do that — there is an increase this year."

Reece voted in favor of the rebate because she said she wants homeowners to get something, but says a full 30% refund would have been the right thing to do.

RELATED: Hamilton Co. commissioners approve additional hotel tax

"I think if we have to keep our promise to the NFL Bengals team, even though we disagree with it ... We should keep the promise to the taxpayers who are the people that we're elected to represent," Reece said.

Homeowners will see their 2024 property tax bill reduced $43.70 per $100,000 of home value.

Updated: November 30, 2023 at 4:15 PM EST
This article has been updated with the commissioners' vote.
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.