Hamilton County homeowners will likely get a smaller stadium property tax rebate next year. Thanks to the pandemic's effects on the economy, county administrators are recommending the rebate be funded at $5 million.
"The recommendation's lower this year primarily due to the uncertainty with the pandemic and COVID-19 and it's potential impact on the economy in 2021," says Jeff Aluotto, county administrator. "If a vaccine does get initiated and we see a broader recovery in 2021, hopefully we can return to more stable rebates."
Funding the rebate program at $5 million would equate to about $19.16 per $100,000 of home value. The rebate this year was about $32 per $100,000, and $29 the year before.
The rebate is based on sales tax revenues, which are expected to take a hit.
"We've projected a slight sales tax reduction for 2021, but we're honestly concerned that revenues could be much worse if we do see a broader economic downturn," Aluotto says. "It's the uncertainty associated with the economy and the pandemic that has me recommending a lower amount this year."
When county voters approved the half-cent sales tax increase in 1996 to build Great American Ball Park and Paul Brown Stadium, they were promised 30% of the money collected would be used to reduce their property taxes in return for paying higher sales taxes. This year, the full 30% rebate would equate to $92.31 per $100,000 in home value.
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.