Thursday, May 16, 2002

Commissioners pave way for Sabin expansion process

New Facilities Authority would collect, allocate funding

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Hamilton County commissioners on Wednesday created the structure for an organization — called the Convention Facilities Authority (CFA) — that would collect $198 million and spend it on expanding the Albert B. Sabin Cincinnati Convention Center.

        That's if all the other pieces fall into place — and there are a lot of other pieces.

        First, a new law, allowing the county to raise its bed tax to 6.5 percent, must be passed by the Ohio Senate and signed into law by the governor. That law passed the House, 80-10, Wednesday afternoon.

        Then, a financing plan agreeable to the county, city of Cincinnati and suburban officials must be approved by City Council and the County Commission.

        If all of that happens, the county now has a formula for appointees to the 11-member CFA board: six from Hamilton County: three members selected by the city of Cincinnati; two selected by the Hamilton County Municipal League.

        “What we're doing today is a lot of smoke without much fire,” Commissioner Tom Neyer said. “But it's a necessary step to comply with the direction coming out of Columbus.”

        Rep. Tom Brinkman, R-Cincinnati, voted against the law Wednesday in Columbus, calling it “enormously expensive,” adding that an expanded center would not help revitalize Cincinnati's downtown.

        “If you build it, they will not come,” he said.


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