Friday, April 13, 2001

Sales tax revenues rise 14%

County needs growth to fund riverfront work

By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Hamilton County's sales tax receipts, the means to pay for the billion-dollar riverfront face-lift, grew more than 14 percent for the month of January compared with the same month in 2000.

        The higher tally is sweet relief for county officials because it reverses a disturbing downward spiral — receipts were lower than the previous year in October (6.2 percent), November (2.4 percent) and December (14.6 percent).

        The county needs the receipts to grow at an average of 3 percent annually for the next 30 years to pay for two new stadiums, parking garages and streets along the riverfront.

        County Administrator Dave Krings said he doesn't want anyone to overinterpret the good news, just as he has cautioned against overinterpreting the bad news the three previous months.

        “It certainly beats negative numbers, but one month doesn't tell the story,” Mr. Krings said.

        It takes three months to tally the receipts. Commissioner John Dowlin has asked if there is any way to get the information faster. “I'm not willing to say the sky is falling,” Mr. Dowlin said of the recent declining sales tax receipts. “But if the sky does fall, it will take us three months to know about it.”

        Sales tax receipts grew 2.1 percent last year but that sluggish growth was covered by a reserve fund established by the commission.

        Commissioner Todd Portune agreed with Mr. Krings that people shouldn't read too much into a one-month recovery. “I don't think you can read too much into a one-month spike,” Mr. Portune said. “You have to look at it from a long-term perspective.”

        Mr. Portune is afraid that there will not be enough money coming in to pay for garages along the riverfront, which will serve as the foundation for buildings for the proposed riverfront neighborhood called The Banks.


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