Hamilton County Commissioner Greg Hartmann’s plan for plugging a shortfall in the cash needed to pay for the Cincinnati sports stadiums: cut health care to the needy.
The Republican commissioner’s plan, provided to the Enquirer Friday, drew immediate criticism from University Hospital and at least one other commissioner.
But Hartmann argues his is the only fix that won’t raise taxes.
He proposed Friday erasing a portion of the county’s property tax rollback beginning in 2012. In exchange, beginning that year he wants to reduce the indigent health care levy by 45 percent - cutting $22 million the levy funnels to University Hospital every year.
The plan raises $6 million a year needed to pay for the stadiums while being tax neutral for homeowners, he said. Commercial property owners – who now pay the indigent care levy but don’t enjoy the rollback - will see a drop in the taxes . . .
Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune, a Democrat, denounced the proposal, calling it “cold-hearted” and “barbaric" . . .
Hartmann is sympathetic to the hospital’s plight, but points out the stadium fund is an obligation that must be paid, while helping pay for indigent care is a “non-essential” expense.
Cincinnati raised sales taxes to fund two new stadiums for the Reds and Bengals, but the revenues are falling short as a result of the recession. Like the CIB, the stadium authority has been borrowing from Peter to pay Paul to plug the hole temporarily, but the budget deficits are expected to grow to $26 million by 2013 according to the Enquirer. The Bengal franchise has been estimated by Forbes magazine to be worth about $716 million. Mike Brown inherited it from his father, Paul Brown. The Reds are owned by a group of investors led by Cincinnati businessman Robert Castellini. The Reds are worth about $337 million according to Forbes. There's nothing quite like welfare for the rich.