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Hamilton County's property tax rebate for 2022 still less than promised

Great American Ballpark on Opening Day 2021 from Sky9
Posted at 6:27 PM, Nov 17, 2021

CINCINNATI — Homeowners can expect to see more money in their pockets next year.

The Hamilton County Commission is considering a 10% property tax rebate for 2022, equal to about $28.24 per $100,000 home. The rebate is more than last year, but less than the 30% rebate voters were promised after approving the half-penny riverfront sales tax in 1996.

That sales tax helped fund new stadiums for the Bengals and the Reds. According to County Administrator Jeff Alutto, in the years following its passage, the county was able to meet the 30% rebate.

“In the early years, we were giving 30% frequently while the sales tax revenues stayed in accordance with projections,” he said.

However, that changed following the recession. The county has offered a 30% rebate only twice in the last decade — 2012 and 2017. In 2021, the rebate was just 6%, due to the pandemic. That’s a total of $5 million of the roughly $85 million the county typically collects in sales tax.

“If we were to provide in any one year a full property tax rebate of 30% and continue to provide that consistently, the sales tax fund would go negative in several years,” Alutto explained.

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Still, some county commissioners would like to see more numbers.

“I am going to push for the maximum we can do responsibly,” said Commissioner Alicia Reece.

Reece said county residents are still struggling from the pandemic, and she believes giving the maximum refund possible is one way to help lessen the burden.

“I think our budget should focus on how do we help Hamilton County tax payers survive?” She said. “People are sitting in their cars at 3 a.m. waiting on the [513 Relief] bus to come with rental relief, home relief. They need help. We want to be responsible, but we also want to be accountable.”

Before money is rebated to taxpayers, the sales tax money first must go toward debt service, the Cincinnati Public Schools Pilot Program and net operations of Paul Brown Stadium and Great American Ball Park. If those cannot be covered by sales tax revenue, funding would be taken from the general fund budget.

Commissioners have until Dec. 2 to approve a property tax rebate amount.

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