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Cuyahoga County Council to Hear Testimony This Month on Sin Tax Extension Ballot Issue

Friday, January 3, 2014 at 5:02 PM

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The sin tax helps fund debt and repair payments on Cleveland's stadiums. (Nick Castele / ideastream)

Cuyahoga County voters may decide this May on whether to extend a tax on cigarettes and alcohol that funds repairs to Cleveland's downtown sports stadiums. ideastream's Nick Castele reports.

Later this month, county council will hear testimony, debate and then vote on a measure that would put an extension to the sin tax on the ballot this may.

That sin tax has been around since voters approved it in 1990, and it’s been a big boon for Cleveland’s sports teams. By May of last year, it had raised more than $370 million for repairs and debt payments on the city’s three major stadiums.

Cuyahoga County Council President C. Ellen Connally says she hasn’t taken a position on the tax itself. But she says it should be on the ballot so the public can decide. And she’s got a list of questions of her own she wants answered before sending the tax proposal to the voters.

“Do I really want to propose a tax that will use the money that will fix up places that the ordinary citizen can’t afford to go to?” Connally said. “There’s some question, is the money be distributed evenly among the teams. There’s a lot of question there we have to have answered.”

Opponents of the tax have said it’s a regressive measure that funnels public dollars toward wealthy teams that should pay in full for their own repairs. Supporters have said. like it or not, the public has been signed onto paying for stadium repairs, and needs to find some way to raise the money.

County council is set to discuss the measure publicly on the last three Tuesdays of this month.

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