Hamilton County homeowners will get a slightly larger property tax rebate next year as part of the 1996 sales tax increase to pay for new stadiums for the Reds and Bengals.
But it's not the amount that was promised to them when the sales tax increase was approved.
Commissioners on Thursday accepted County Administrator Jeff Aluotto's recommendation for a property tax rebate (PTR) of $8.5 million. That will mean a rebate of about $31.60 per $100,000 in home value. For the current year it was about $29.
"The PTR then is not a legal obligation but something that was agreed too years ago," said County Commission President Denise Driehaus. "We have struggled as a commission to do our best to offer the property tax rollback to the degree that we can without having the fund become insolvent."
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 not met, and starting in 2011, the county commissioners began 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 need additional upkeep.
"I think the recommendation that we put forward follows the board policy direction from last year. It keeps the PTR, plans for an annual increase, keeps it stable and keeps the fund solvent into the future," said County Administrator Jeff Aluotto. "Of course we'll be reviewing this issue on an annual basis as we move forward."
Aluotto told the board if they fully funded the PTR going forward it would put the stadium fund $10 million in the hole by 2022, and that number would increase to $200 million by 2032.