Background on Where We Are Today
Since the Hamilton County Commissioners agreed to own Paul Brown Stadium in the now infamous deal of 1996, Taxpayers have pumped nearly $1 billion into supporting, maintaining, and improving the stadium. In order to fund the debt, operations, and maintenance of the stadium, the County uses a .5% sales tax
A few quick facts...
We pay $43 Million per year (Approximately $28 Million for Paul Brown Stadium and $15 Million for Great American Ballpark) solely on servicing the construction debt of the stadium.
Paul Brown Stadium is used less than 20 days out of the year...therefore it sits vacant for more than 340 days a year while it sucks up taxpayer dollars like a vacuum.
In 1996 County taxpayers paid $455Million to construct Paul Brown Stadium. Since then, we have spent an additional $825,000,000 on Paul Brown Stadium. Revenue for the stadium’ debt payment, operation, repair and maintenance is collected through a .5% sales tax, but over time this has proved insufficient to maintain the cost of the stadium. Why? The population of Hamilton County has remained stagnant for the last 20 years, projected sales tax revenue has fallen short of projections while inflation has steadily increased. Therefore, the stadium finds itself underfunded and the county (The County projects annual budget deficits for 2021 thru 2028), essentially taxpayers, are stuck with the bill.
Potential Impact of Past due Enhancements
The County has acknowledged that the Bengals are owed approximately $250Million in stadium enhancements and as much as $125 Million in related costs. The Bengals have agreed to delay discussions about the Enhancements until lease negotiations start in 2024. If the Enhancements would be required 2027, which would seem logical since the stadium will be 27 years old, the debt payment for the enhancements will be added to other debt and operating costs. The effect will be annual budgets deficits thru 2032. The result, all other items remaining the same, is that the County will have a negative balance in the sales tax reserve of more than $100Million.
Impact of COVID-19
The situation has only become more dire in the last few months due to the impact of COVID-19. With businesses closed, unemployment on the rise, and the economy churning to a crawl, sales tax revenue has decreased significantly. Hamilton County has already announced they will have to cut their General Fund budget by 20%. Economists are suggesting the economy will shrink between 15% and 30% this year and take 2-3 years to recover.
If We Do Nothing...
The bottomline is that we are on a course that will see the stadiums severely underfunded. This straps the county with an incredible financial burden in a time when money is tight. This leaves only bad options available for the future.
Negotiations on a new stadium deal begin in 2024...do you want to see the county's commitment extended?
Committed Property Tax Rollback
When taxpayers passed the 0.5% sales tax increase in 1996, the commitment was to return 30% of the sales tax revenue to taxpayers in the form of a Property tax Rollback. Jus over 20 years later the County has underpaid taxpayers a projected $94Million. To make matters worse, in order to just pay for ongoing debt service, operations, repair and maintenance, the Commissioners plan to underpay taxpayers an additional $200M by 2032 (The total projected underpayment in 2032 will be approximately $290Million or $1,540/eligible taxpayer.)
Based on County projections, the resulting Property Tax Rollback for 2020 would be $25.2M. The County is proposing to pay eligible taxpayers only $8.5M of the $25.2M owed them. Approximately $16.7M less than owed (Just under $90/eligible taxpayer this year alone).
The County projected a sales tax reserve (essentially the check book for the Stadiums) of more than $44M in 2020. The County projects that this amount will grow significantly after 2033 when Stadium construction debt is paid off.
County projections do not include the estimated $250M in enhancements owed the Bengals and an additional $125M for other items (Total of $375M).
The COVID-19 pandemic has been estimated to have a potential revenue impact to the general fund of 20%.
The accumulated expenses for the Stadiums thru 2020 are approximately $1.23Billion ($825M for PBS and $405M for GABP).
The County projects a budget deficit for the stadiums from 2021 thru 2028.
The County taxpayers, the Bengals and the stadium users all deserve a state of the industry stadium.
If enhancements are required in 2027 in the amount of the $250M escalated to 2026 dollars ($300M), the sales tax reserve will reach a negative $94M by 2032.
The projected impact of the COVID-19 pandemic could increase the negative balance to $129.2M.
The County has not paid the full committed property tax rollback (PTR). The accumulated unpaid amount in 2020 is more than $94M.
The County projects paying half or a little less than half of the committed PTR from 2020 thru 2036. The result is a total unpaid PTR in 2032 of $284.2M.
When these three items are considered, the County will have a negative position of $413.2M in 2032.
This potentially means the County will have to borrow money (like a second mortgage) to pay the debt (Like a first mortgage) and operating costs.
Accumulative Effect of COVID-19, Stadium Enhancements and Underpaid Property Tax Rollback
When the accumulative effect of the COVID-19, Stadium Enhancements and underpayment of property tax rollback are considered the Stadium fund has a negative position of approximately -$413Million in 2032.