Sin Tax will be on May ballot

James W. Wade III | 2/5/2014, 11:36 a.m.
“This is our property. We own these places. If the Indians and Cavaliers packed up and left Cleveland, we will ...

Cuyahoga County Council voted unanimously last week to put the sin tax on the May ballot to renew the county’s sin tax to pay for stadium maintenance through 2035. It’s no secret the Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP) has been playing a big role in this effort along with County Council.

The 20 year extension of the sin tax would raise at least $260 million for major capital repairs to FirstEnergy Stadium, Progressive Field and Quicken Loans Arena, which taxpayers are obligated to finance under the terms of leases negotiated with the teams.

The Greater Cleveland Partnership, which represents businesses in Northeast Ohio, has been busy informing people about the need to make this happen. Holding various forums and meeting to let the public know all the facts.

The county’s sin tax is assessed at 4.5 cents per pack of cigarettes, 1.5 cents per 12-ounce bottle of beer, .6 cents per 750-milliliter bottle of wine, .32 cents per gallon of mixed beverages, .24 cents per gallon of cider and $3 per gallon of hard liquor.

In a fact sheet released by GCP they stated, before these facilities were built, downtown Cleveland was a decaying metropolitan core that significantly defined the decline of Northeast Ohio. Gateway which gave the Indians there own home and which brought the Cavaliers to Cuyahoga County was the first catalyst that triggered the multi-billion dollar revitalization of downtown Cleveland that continues today.

“This is our property. We own these places. If the Indians and Cavaliers packed up and left Cleveland, we will still own these buildings and places,” said County Councilman Pernell Jones Jr.

Jones, who is sponsoring the tax renewal legislation, talked about how he supports measure under the expectation that county residents who pay the sin tax would be hired to perform the work on the stadiums.

“I do understand the political dynamics here... But I see this as an opportunity to make a difference for the community,” he said.

The facts state that more than four million people a year attend games and other events at Quicken Loans Arena, Progressive Field and the FirstEnergy Stadium where the Browns play.

In a written release, it was highlighted that Cleveland’s major league sports venues are no longer new. Progressive Field and Quicken Loans Arena are 20 years old. Eighteen MLB ballparks are newer than Progressive Field. Performing regular maintenance on these buildings protects the public’s investment in them and helps extend the life of the buildings.

At a meeting, Jones shared with the Call & Post that the Cavs and Indians have submitted an estimated $135 million worth of fixes including $23.9 million for scoreboard-related upgrades that they are expected to request over the next decade.

With all the people who may not like sports, but smoke and drink, they are asking is this fair to tax me? “I can’t even smoke at the stadium that my money help pay for,” said Browns fan Marcus Green.

People like Green feel a small group of people will really be taxed. Many on Social Security who are unable to afford stadium prices will pay for these improvements Green added.