Dusty Rhodes Hamilton County Auditor
Hamilton County Prosecutor
Hamilton County Treasurer
For Immediate Release November 29, 2011
County Leaders Warn Of Certifying Full Property Tax Rebate With No Plan Budget Commission concerned about bond rating, County general fund at immediate risk CINCINNATI – Hamilton County leaders joined together today to urge Commissioner Chris Monzel and Commissioner Todd Portune not to certify a full property tax rebate for 2012 unless they have viable plan to pay for it. Neither Commissioner Monzel or Commissioner Portune have proposed realistic, workable financial solutions to provide a full property tax rebate, but both claim they intend to certify a full rebate Wednesday. “It is the height of fiscal irresponsibility to spend money we don’t have out of the broken Stadium Fund. If these Commissioners vote to fully fund a property tax credit without the money to pay for it, taxpayers should offer each of them a one-way ticket to Greece to govern with other like minds,” said Hamilton County Auditor Dusty Rhodes. Auditor Rhodes, Prosecutor Joe Deters and Treasurer Robert Goering are members of the County Budget Commission which is established by Ohio law in each county. If a full property tax rebate were certified without the resources to pay for it, the Budget Commission would be required to take action. In order to fulfill their duty, they may be required to invade the County General Fund to pay for it. “The financial community, including rating agencies and our bond holders, must have absolute certainty that fiscal resources are available to meet the County’s obligations. Questionable schemes that cloud certainty could result in a downgrade of the County’s credit rating. More important, this risky behavior instantly places the County general fund in jeopardy and with it public safety services for citizens across our County,” said Prosecutor Deters. Without a plan in place to pay for the full property tax credit, it would be necessary for County Commissioners to begin developing first-quarter general fund budget reductions right away. Hamilton County’s budget has been reduced 24% during the last four years and is at its lowest level since 1998. “There is currently no plan to certify a full property tax rebate. It is irresponsible to provide a full property tax rebate without the funds to pay for it,” said Treasurer Goering.
Auditor Rhodes, Prosecutor Deters and Treasurer Goering support Commissioner Greg Hartmann’s proposal to provide a $5.5 million annual property tax rebate through 2015 and utilize $15.9 million in team concessions to balance the fund for four years. Hamilton County’s fiscal leaders warn against additional last minute plans coming from Commissioners. “Any forthcoming eleventh hour proposal is meaningless window dressing and cowardice by those who aren’t willing to make tough decisions on the single most important issue facing Hamilton County’s finances. It is reckless and imprudent to propose the sale of a valuable County asset at the last minute for just a fraction of its value. It is irresponsible and foolish to certify a full rebate based on unrealistic future financial projections and wishful thinking. A 24-hour period is not enough time to evaluate risky financial maneuvers and their legal implications,” said Auditor Rhodes. Proposals made by Commissioner Monzel and Commissioner Portune on November 14 were vetted by Hamilton County Administration and serious concerns were identified. These proposals did not provide the $20 million needed to provide full property tax rebate as intended. -30-