Perhaps the most prominent issue of the election, Issue 8 is a proposed five-year sales tax increase for the significant renovation and rehabilitation of Union Terminal. The levy is estimated to generate $170 million and bump Hamilton County’s current sales tax of 6.75 percent to 7 percent. It will begin in 2015 and last for five years.
Union Terminal, which receives more than 1.2 million visitors each year, has significant water and structural damage, obsolete and inefficient electrical and lighting systems and outdated mechanical equipment.
The sales tax will apply to Hamilton County residents as well as non-residents who purchase applicable items within the county.
Per county resident, the projected cost of the sales tax is $23 per year, or $92 per year for a family of four — a meager cost to save one of Cincinnati’s greatest cultural icons.
Improvements to the Art Deco museum are currently funded by a 2009 Hamilton County tax levy for operations, maintenance and repair. That levy expires this year and will not be renewed, which is why Issue 8 is so vital to the museum’s future.
Without voter approval, the museum — which is ranked 45th on the American Institute of Architects’ list of “America’s Favorite Buildings” — will most likely close, robbing Cincinnati of a historic and architectural treasure. Building an entirely new museum would cost much more than renovating the current one, and so far no space has been deemed big enough to house the center’s sprawling, multiple exhibits.
The Museum Center has touched multiple generations in Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky and beyond. To outsiders, it helps make Cincinnati an interesting and worthy place to visit. It’s an easy choice to save this iconic building and worthy resource.