Hamilton County homeowners will find out next month how much of a rebate they'll get on their 2020 property tax bills from the 1996 sales tax increase to pay for new stadiums for the Reds and Bengals.
County Administrator Jeff Aluotto is recommending a property tax rebate (PTR) of $8.5 million. That would mean a rebate of about $31.60 per $100,000 in home value.
"It allows us to keep the fund fiscally solvent," Aluotto said. "It allows us to provide a stable and even possibly slightly increasing property tax rebate amount over the course of the next decade while drawing down on reserves. I think it's a prudent amount that helps keep the fund viable while also allowing us to meet the other obligations in the fund as well."
When county voters approved the half-cent sales tax increase in 1996, they were promised that 30% of the money collected would be used to reduce their property taxes in return for paying higher sales taxes. Right now, the full 30% rebate would be $94.10 per $100,000 in home value.
But the projections for sales tax growth when the plan was put together were overly optimistic, and starting in 2011, the county commissioners had to start reducing the PTR in order to keep the sales tax fund solvent.
It's used to pay the debt service on the bonds that were issued to pay for stadium construction, and is also used for maintenance and upkeep. There could be additional demands on the fund as the stadiums age, and may need additional upkeep.
The county commissioners could accept Aluotto's recommendation, or they could modify it. Past commissions have increased the administrations recommendation to return as much of the PTR to homeowners as possible, since that's what they were promised.
County Commission President Denise Driehaus is asking for some additional information before making a final decision.
"The obligations that we have through the stadium fund, for instance, the maintenance on the stadiums, the debt service, all the things that are paid for through that fund," Driehaus said. "And if you could just list those out by way of dollar amount. I think that would be helpful for us to get kind of the context of what we're talking about. And then in addition to that, could you provide us the history for the PTR."
The commission is expected to vote on the PTR amount Dec. 5.