Good morning all. Here are some quick news hits for you today.
Cincinnati City Council is poised today to give its final approval on a plan by Mayor John Cranley that would spend as much as $37 million in city funds to build infrastructure around a planned stadium for FC Cincinnati in Oakley. With a rushed timeline ahead of the team’s bid for a Major League Soccer franchise, the deal has left a number of big questions lingering, including whether the stadium will even end up in Oakley. FC Cincinnati has been named a finalist in the competition for the expansion slot, according to a list released by MLS today. Stick around or follow me on Twitter to get full updates on the stadium debate today.
• As council prepares to give the final go-ahead for Cranley’s plan, hotel operators are voicing opposition to the deal. The city’s portion of Hamilton County’s hotel tax, which is levied on those staying at area hotels, will provide between $10 million and $20 million of the city’s portion of the infrastructure spending when all is said and done. But a group of four hotel operators with the Cincinnati Hotel Association wrote a letter to Cincinnati City Council asking them to vote against the plan today. They say the stadium won’t meaningfully increase the number of people who stay in their hotels and that the city’s portion of the hotel tax should go toward expanding the Duke Energy Convention Center. Attracting bigger conventions, they argue, will have a much greater impact on hotel stays and the local economy in general. Cranley argues that the stadium will increase tourism and that it’s appropriate to use the hotel tax for its infrastructure needs.
• In news that is totally unrelated if you think about it for less than 30 seconds, Hamilton County Commissioners today will vote on whether residents will pay more in property taxes next year so that the county has enough money on hand to pay for debt service for Great American Ball Park and Paul Brown Stadium. As it turns out, the half-cent sales tax created to fund those stadia might not rake in enough money over the next couple years to cover the debt payments. Thus, commissioners are considering limiting a property tax rollback county residents currently enjoy. They’ve done this multiple times in the past as well. The full rollback was worth about $80 per $100,000 valuation on a home. The county administrator’s office has recommended that be cut to $37 per $100,000 valuation next year to shore up the funds necessary to pay debt on the stadia in two years.
• At their meeting today, commissioners will also vote on whether to kick in $15 million in county money for a 1,000-car parking garage for FC Cincinnati’s proposed stadium. That plan seems to have approval from at least the commission’s two Democrats.
• Let’s talk about something other than stadia for a minute, shall we? It turns out Cincinnati is really good at shopping, if this story is to be believed. According to data from a newfangled device for drivers from Verizon called Hum, the Cincinnati metropolitan area had the biggest turnout of Black Friday shoppers of any city in the country. I find it hard to imagine that Cincy had more outright shoppers than mega-cities like New York and Chicago, so maybe the data is per capita? Or maybe we’re just that great at scoring sweet deals. Anyway, onward.
• I swear to god if racists ruin pizza, I’m moving to the moon. I may need to charter a Space X flight or something soon, because LaRosa’s is apologizing this week after a delivery driver in Beavercreek flew a confederate flag while he was on the job. The Cincinnati-based pizza company says the driver was reprimanded for the huge flag billowing from the back of his truck and that similar incidents will never happen again.
• What other awesome stuff is going on out in the world? Oh yeah. Congressional Republicans are in the last steps of passing their tax reform bill through the Senate, and it could have some hefty long-term costs for moderate and middle class earners. A new analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office shows that in 2019, those making $30,000 a year or less would pay more in taxes under the new tax plan. Most of the increase for that group will come when health care subsidies end under the bill. But two years later, those making up to $40,000 a year would also feel the burn, and a decade from now, most people making less than $75,000 a year would be paying more in taxes. That would happen even as the bill extended new tax cuts and benefits to earners making more than $100,000 a year. Oh, and the plan would add an estimated $1.4 trillion to the federal deficit in that time. Sounds great! I have to go now so I can feverishly figure out how to make more than $100,000 a year bye.