Tuesday, August 29, 2000

County sets aside riverfront money

By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        There will soon be a little more cushion in Hamilton County's plan to pay for the $1 billion riverfront remodeling job.

        County officials will establish a fund, with an initial balance of nearly $6 million, that will allow them to continue paying the bills even if sales tax collections take a nose dive for a year or two.

        The idea was floated at Monday's staff meeting, and received unanimous support from the three commissioners after some initial concern the county would be squirreling away too much money.

        Sales tax revenue has grown at an average rate of 7.4 percent since 1972.

        The county needs the sales tax to grow at a 3 percent clip for the next three decades to afford the two new stadiums, parking and infrastructure improvements.

        The money in the new account is meant to guard against an off year or two.

        “There is volatility that we have to be ready for,” county financial adviser Heather Hoover said.

        Eric Rockhold of Merrill Lynch said the goal is to keep the account's balance at 10 percent of the revenue generated by the half-penny increase in the sales tax.

        That means money will have to be added to the account each year the sales tax revenue grows.

        And if the money is never used, it can pay off the bonds early.

        “This account will increase the likelihood of that happening,” County Administrator Dave Krings said.

        “We are placing discipline on ourselves.”


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