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Opposition Group Forms to Campaign Against Cuyahoga County Sin Tax

Monday, March 17, 2014 at 9:14 AM

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The Indians' Progressive Field three weeks before opening day. (Nick Castele / ideastream)

As the campaign ramps up to renew a sin tax in Cuyahoga County for stadium repairs, a group has come together to oppose the measure. ideastream’s Nick Castele reports.

The tax has been on the books since it passed in 1990. It raises 4.5 cents per pack of cigarettes, and varying amounts from alcoholic beverages – 16 cents a gallon from beer, 32 cents a gallon for wine and $3 a gallon for hard liquor. That money funds debt payments and repairs for Cleveland’s professional sports stadiums.

Cleveland attorney Peter Pattakos says he and about 10 people right now hope to mount a campaign to take another look at what the public pays for sports.

“It’s time to reassess what exactly the public is getting out of this partnership,” Pattakos said. “We think this is an opportunity to reevaluate it. Now is exactly not the time to be rushing through the same old, same old.”

He says one alternative is pushing for a state law that applies a tax to Cuyahoga and the surrounding counties, meaning more people share the burden. Another idea is raise the tax on admission.

Tom Yablonsky with the Historic Gateway Neighborhood Development Corporation is a supporter of the sin tax. Gateway is the home of Progressive Field and the Q. He says the admission tax is high enough already. And he says the issue has had plenty of hearing in the public through several hours of county council meetings this year.

Overall, he says, downtown’s rebirth has been helped along by sin tax-supported and publicly owned stadiums.

“This has been a good deal for the community,” Yablonsky said. “None of the moneys from these taxes go to the players’ salaries or the owners directly. These are public facilities.”

Voters will have their say on the measure in the election May 6.

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Government/Politics, Elections

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