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Cuyahoga County Voters Pass Extension of Sin Tax for Sports Facilities

Wednesday, May 7, 2014 at 3:59 AM

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Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley and County Councilman Pernel Jokes speak with supporters. (Nick Castele)

Voters last night agreed to extend Cuyahoga County's sin tax for 20 more years, to pay for upgrades to Cleveland's professional sports stadiums. ideastream's Nick Castele reports.

Of the voters who weighed in on extending on the tax on alcohol and cigarettes, 56 percent said yes, with 44 percent saying no.

Sin tax supporters had argued that the public was obligated to support upgrades to Cleveland’s three publicly owned sports facilities. Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley delivered one of the victory speeches. 

“The message that we got across to people was that these are our community assets,” Kelley said. “We own them, and we need to preserve them and we need to keep moving Cleveland forward.”

The Indians, Cavaliers and Browns bankrolled much of the campaign for the sin tax, contributing at least $1.8 million worth of cash, loans, and other help.

The attorney who led a charge against the sin tax, Peter Pattakos, said that money helped supporters run an aggressive campaign.

“And I think what you’re seeing here is what happens to democracy when the influence of money on elections is virtually unlimited,” Pattakos said.

Still unanswered is how exactly the expected $260 million in tax revenue will be divided among the three facilities.

Kevin Kelley says the money will likely go to the stadiums as needed, but that’s up to county council to decide. 

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Government/Politics, Elections

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