MAYOR JACKSON: COMMISSIONERS SITTING ON $55 MILLION FOR MED MART

Submitted by Roldo on Sun, 05/03/2009 - 14:22.

Cuyahoga County taxpayers have now “contributed” $55,664,264 in sales taxes for the not-yet-settled Medical Mart and Convention Center.

 
Thank you, Tim Hagan, Jimmy Dimora and Peter Lawson Jones.
 
The tax was instituted with an added one-quarter percent in the sales tax by the County Commissioners in January, 2008. It raised the County sales tax to 7.75 percent, the highest in Ohio.
 
The additional tax raised $2.9 million in April, the latest figure available.
 
The money should also be raising earned interest for the County.
 
The $55.6 million plus interest puts a tasty pot of cash in the hands of the Commissioners. It could be an alluring lure for Mayor Frank Jackson. The city owns land the Commissioners want for its convention project.
 
It might be a signal to Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson that the County has plenty of money to pay a reasonable price for the Mall site and the present Convention Center and Public Hall. The land itself should be worth more than the $17.5 to $20 million the County wants to pay the city.
 
After all, the city has been subsidizing the convention business for Northeast Ohio going back to the 1920s. (Public Hall was constructed in 1922). That should mean something in the dealing between the city and county.
 
It would seem irresponsible for the city to give up that land for a pittance now that the County wants it not only for a convention center but for a private business, a medical mart run by a private company.
 
Maybe someone in the Cleveland finance department can total up what the city has shelled out for the convention business over these many decades. The cost has been borne by city residents.
 
Hagan now wants the land and properties for a paltry $17.5 million. He’s pressing for a fast decision from Jackson.
 
Jackson should not be rushed into a deal that gives the County and its favored developer the land on the cheap. The threat of going to the Playhouse site near University Circle is just that – a threat.
 
When Hagan and the boys have $55-million plus in the bank, I think it gives Mayor Jackson some room for hard bargaining.
 
In my continued monthly reporting on special taxes levied by the County Commissioners there follows other tax totals.
 
Along with the $55.6 million collected from taxpayers for the medical mart, the same taxpayers have anted up $51,858,391 for the Browns Stadium. That figure, as of April, 2009, includes collections since August 2005 from the previously levied taxes for Gateway. These so-called “sin” taxes are levied on cigarettes, beer, wine and liquor. Smokers and beer drinkers pay the most.
 
Taxpayers – really smokers – contributed another $1.6 million in April in taxes for the County Arts & Culture kitty. That tax now has cost cigarette smokers $42,791,900 since its inception in February 2007.
 
In all, these three taxes have cost County taxpayers $150.3 million in the various regressive sales taxes in the last few years.
 
If you add “sin” taxes (plus interest earned) that went for Gateway costs - $266.3 million - to the $150.3 million, the regressive taxes have cost County taxpayers $416.6 million.
 
That’s a lot of public money going primarily to subsidized private interests, particularly in sports.
 
That’s a lot of money for events – sporting and cultural – that are enjoyed by the entire Northeast Ohio area but paid primarily by Cuyahoga County residents and regressively by lower income people for the benefit most often by those with higher incomes.
 
The unfairness of it is obvious.
 
Something Mayor Jackson and Commissioners Hagan, Dimora and Lawson Jones should take into account in pricing the present and past value of the Mall site to Northeast Ohio residents.
 
The city should not allow the vast taxes collected to be shifted to a private company, MMPI (Merchandise Mart Properties Inc.), chosen by the County Commissioners to take over the convention business.
 
Indeed, the County Commissioners should be asking for financial contributions from counties adjacent to Cuyahoga. Their residents benefit from the heavy taxation in Cuyahoga.
 
They apparently enjoy these amenities free.
 
Remember Regionalism? Let’s start here.
 
 
 
 
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where is it on the balance sheet?

Roldo, in this day of disappearing assets, do we know the money is still on the balance sheet, or did it go to shore up a loss elsewhere? We do know that the infusion of funds in late 2007 was the only thing that balanced that year's budget. Why didn't the budget balance that year without the extreme intervention of a sales-tax hike for the last quarter?

What went wrong that year that needed to be bailed out?

You forget that the County

You forget that the County kicks 6M/ year to operate the current Convention Center and without that the City couldn't keep the lights on in the place let alone maintain it.

PoorRichard2: Those are bed

PoorRichard2: Those are bed tax revenues and they don't come from the County

alone.  Cleveland hotel bed taxes pay for them, too. That also is not a long-standing payment. Not sure when that started but in recent years.