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Cuyahoga considers reviving sin tax

Associated Press • Jan 26, 2014 at 5:00 PM

Ohio’s most populous county is considering whether to put a sin tax renewal before voters to go toward downtown Cleveland’s three professional sports stadiums.

   The Cuyahoga County Council has until Feb. 5 to put a 20-year renewal of the tax on alcohol and cigarettes on the May 6 ballot. Otherwise, it will expire in 2015.

   The council began hearing arguments on both sides at packed meetings this week and could come to a vote as soon as Tuesday.

   Renewing the tax could produce a projected $260 million over 20 years, reported the News-Herald of Willoughby.

   The county first approved of the tax in 1990, drawing just more than $350 million for construction and maintenance of the stadiums for the Cleveland Indians, Cavaliers and Browns.

   At a meeting of the council on Thursday to consider presenting the renewal to voters in May, the Indians submitted a preliminary capital repair list with a price tag between $61.2 million and $67.2 million over 10 years, including a $14.9 million state-of-the-art scoreboard.

   The Cavaliers’ preliminary repair list estimated costs at between $55 million to $65 million, with the priciest item being a new high-definition, $9 million scoreboard.

   If the sin tax is not renewed and the repairs are not made, the Indians and the Cavaliers would have legal leeway to break their leases with the county and city, said Tim Offtermatt, chairman of Gateway Corp., the nonprofit that acts as landlord for the teams’ stadiums.

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