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For a Fair Deal for Cuyahoga County Taxpayers, Say No to Issue 7

Who We Are:

We are a coalition of diverse and concerned citizens from Greater Cleveland, who are uniting together to fight the proposed 20-year Sin Tax on Cuyahoga County residents (an additional tax on alcohol and cigarettes) — on the Cuyahoga County ballot this May as Issue 7 — intended to collect between $250 – $350 million from taxpayers to be used to finance the costs of constructing, renovating, improving, or repairing pro-sports facilities for the Cleveland Browns (First Energy Stadium), Cavaliers (Quicken Loans Arena), and Indians (Progressive Field).

Why We Are Opposed to the Sin Tax:

Here are some of the reasons we oppose the Sin Tax:

  • Transparency: Proponents of the Sin Tax refer to the public’s “obligations” to finance the teams’ facilities, but they have never been able to explain exactly what those “obligations” are, or how the Sin Tax proceeds would satisfy them.
  • Control of Public Subsidies: First enacted in 1990, the Sin Tax has been combined with over a half dozen public subsidies (Parking Tax, Admissions Tax, Bed Tax, Video Game Tax, Rental Car Tax and Property Tax exemption) that have amounted to almost $1 Billion tax payer dollars to the athletic facilities, practically a bottomless pit of public funding for these hugely profitable private businesses.
  • Opportunity Costs: Sin Tax proponents refer to it as a “pennies-per-purchase tax,” but the truth is that it amounts to an additional hundreds of millions of dollars that Cuyahoga County residents simply can’t afford.  We already have the highest sales tax, the highest school property taxes, and levy after levy that fall on the shoulders of County taxpayers. Additionally, as a nation, we have suffered the deepest economic recession since the 1930s. Unemployment, prices and inequality have skyrocketed, and Cuyahoga County’s population and resources are scarce.
  • Unfair Burden on City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County Residents: More than 50% of the visitors to the sports facilities are from outside of Cuyahoga County. There is no good reason for Cleveland and Cuyahoga County to shoulder the whole burden for these facilities.
  • Unfair Burden on the Poor and Working Class: This is a regressive tax, which means that it disproportionately impacts low-income residents and the working class citizens of our county.

What we are proposing:

Rejecting the proposed Sin Tax by voting NO on Issue 7 is the first step to a fairer deal for Greater Cleveland. There are number of options that should be explored:

  • Using Denver as a model, which has a similar sized Downtown as well as three pro-sports facilities, we are proposing a multi-county (7 to 11) sales tax of 1/10th of 1% that could possibly benefit both major league and minor league teams.  If the Chamber wants to promote “regionalism,” start with this issue.
  • Another option is a $3-$5 “facility fee” per ticket.  Cleveland already has some of the lowest ticket prices in the country.  Plus, it would raise the necessary funds, paid by those who patronize the facilities.
  • The teams should sign leases that expire when the sin tax expires.  Currently, each team’s lease ends years before the sin tax expires, leaving open the possibility of the taxpayers paying for teams that are no longer there.
  • Complete transparency on what are the exact obligations and how, specifically, sin tax revenues will be used to satisfy those obligations.

Conclusion:

By rejecting the Sin Tax on May 6th, we will create a productive dialogue as to how public money is spent, and increased transparency in future negotiations with the sports owners.

Nothing would “Keep Cleveland Strong” more than that.

THE POWER OF “NO”

SAY NO TO ISSUE 7

 

Coalition Against the Sin Tax Talking Points

ISSUE 7 BALLOT LANGUAGE:

MAY 6, 2014 PRIMARY ELECTION / ELECCIÓN PRIMARIA DEL 6 DE MAYO DE 2014

CUYAHOGA COUNTY – ISSUE 7

PROPOSED EXTENSION OF ALCOHOL AND CIGARETTE TAXES FOR SPORTS FACILITIES

COUNTY OF CUYAHOGA

A majority affirmative vote is necessary for passage

For the purpose of paying the costs of constructing, renovating, improving, or repairing sports facilities and reimbursing a county for costs incurred by the county in the construction of sports facilities, shall excise taxes be levied by Cuyahoga County at the rate of three dollars on each gallon of spirituous liquor sold in the county, sixteen cents per gallon on the sale of beer at wholesale in the county, thirty-two cents per gallon on the sale of wine and mixed beverages at wholesale in the county, twenty-four cents per gallon on the sale of cider at wholesale in the county, and 2.25 mills per cigarette on the sale of cigarettes at wholesale in the county, for 20 years beginning August 1, 2015.

PROPUESTA DE EXTENSIÓN DE LOS IMPUESTOS SOBRE EL ALCOHOL Y LOS CIGARRILLOS PARA FINANCIAR INSTALACIONES DEPORTIVAS CONDADO DE CUYAHOGA

Se requiere un voto afirmativo por mayoría para su aprobación

Con el fin de pagar los costos de construir, renovar, mejorar o reparar las instalaciones y reembolsar al condado por los costos en los que haya incurrido el condado por la construcción de instalaciones deportivas, ¿deberá recaudar el Condado de Cuyahoga impuestos especiales a una tasa de tres dólares por cada galón de licores destilados vendido en el condado, dieciséis centavos por galón vendido al por mayor de cerveza en el condado, treinta dos centavos por galón vendido al por mayor de vino y bebidas combinadas en el condado, veinticuatro centavos por galón vendido al por mayor de sidra en el condado, y 2.25 milésimos por cigarrillo vendido al por mayor en el condado, por 20 años, comenzando el 1 de agosto de 2015?