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Monday, March 31, 2014

'Coalition Against the Sin Tax' Asks: "What Would You Do With $260 Million?"

Posted By on Mon, Mar 31, 2014 at 10:36 AM

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The folks behind the Coalition Against the Sin Tax (C.A.S.T.) posed a nifty question to Clevelanders who aren't billionaire sports franchise owners: What would you do with $260 million? That's the amount of money that the sin tax extension is estimated to generate over the next 20 years, were the voters to approve such a thing.

The answers to C.A.S.T.'s inquiry, unsurprisingly, flesh out a number of concerns across our city that could be eased by tax revenue generated from, say, a sin tax. Think pothole repair, schools investments, safety force increases, more pothole repair, urban farming, homeless shelter improvements, and so on. And yet more pothole repair.

The matter will be up for a vote in May. The sin tax will come in the form of Issue 7 on the ballot. C.A.S.T.'s main platform point remains a demand for greater transparency in the negotiations between the city and county and the three major sports teams here. As C.A.S.T. supporters Peter Pattakos and Brian Cummins (a Cleveland City Councilman) said during a February debate at Sterle's Country House, a defeat at the polls in May could prompt more open discussion about how to finance the stadium repair obligations in Cleveland.

The sin tax, originally enacted in 1990 and extended for 20 years in 1995, does not expire until 2015.

“Our day at the Market confirms that citizens are fed up with corporate welfare for billionaires in a County that can’t meet the basic needs of its residents,” says C.A.S.T. campaign manager Erin McCardle. “We continue to find that when people take a few moments to consider the facts behind the proposed Sin Tax, they are overwhelmingly opposed to it. We hope they are as enthusiastic about getting to the polls on May 6 to reject Issue 7 for transparency and a better deal with Cleveland’s pro sports owners.”

Our November 2012 feature presents an in-depth look at Cleveland Browns Stadium financing, which is little more than a "liability" for the city, as one councilman told us.

Here's the C.A.S.T. ad:

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