Hamilton County voters will have say on sales tax hike to preserve Union Terminal, not Music Hall

Hartmann says icon tax vote was 'right' decision

CINCINNATI – A standing-room-only crowd booed Hamilton County Commissioner Greg Hartmann Wednesday after he cast the deciding vote to dump Music Hall from the so-called "icon tax" proposal.

Even so, Hartmann said hours later that he felt good about his decision.

"I think it was a difficult decision but the right one," he told WCPO. "The county taxpayers can't take on new liabilities right now."

















Hartmann voted to support a proposal advanced by Commissioner Chris Monzel, his fellow Republican, to let voters decide in November whether to raise the county sales tax by a quarter-cent for five years to generate roughly $170 million for the restoration of Union Terminal.

If voters approve the measure, sales tax in Hamilton County would increase from 6.75 cents on the dollar to 7 cents on the dollar.

Influential business and community leaders wanted a plan that would raise the tax by a quarter-cent over 14 years to raise hundreds of millions of dollars to restore both Union Terminal and Music Hall.

That plan was the brainchild of the Cultural Facilities Task Force, a group of volunteers formed after the county's Tax Levy Review Committee asked the Cincinnati Museum Center to come up with a plan to address the serious problems facing Union Terminal.

Former Procter & Gamble Co. CEO Bob McDonald, recently confirmed as the secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, was chairman of the group. In late June, McDonald presented the task force's $331 million plan to county officials, and it included both Union Terminal and Music Hall.

In the end, though, adding Music Hall was too much for Hartmann and Monzel.

"Ultimately, the decision was, should county taxpayers be on the hook for what is a city institution and a city building?" Hartmann said.

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