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Monday, March 27, 2017

Policy Matters Ohio Urges City and County Councils to Slow Down Q Deal Votes

Posted By on Mon, Mar 27, 2017 at 4:49 PM

click to enlarge SAM ALLARD / SCENE
  • Sam Allard / Scene
Citing financial uncertainty and pressing needs across the city and county, Policy Matters Ohio published a news release Monday afternoon urging patience on the Quicken Loans Arena renovation deal.

"County and city councils should wait until a state budget has been finalized in June, and more is known about the federal cutbacks that are under discussion," the post read.

Policy Matters Ohio is a non-profit research institute that works toward a fair economy for all via research and advocacy in a number of policy areas.

Echoing the particular hangup of county councilman Jack Schron, Policy Matters Ohio said that "rushing ahead" to vote on the deal amidst so many lingering financial uncertainties is "irresponsible."

For example, John Kasich's state budget, which won't be finalized until June, will likely cost the county $23-$25 million per year in lost revenue due to cuts in the sales tax on Medicaid managed care services. Kasich has also proposed reducing (again) local government aid to Cleveland. Mayor Frank Jackson and City Council have been decrying those cuts for years. Jackson even sent a letter earlier this month angrily opposing the proposed cuts, saying that they "erode charter cities' 'home rule' authority, further deplete the local government fund and contribute to regressive tax shift."

Jackson's letter was "interesting" to county councilman Jack Schron.

"If he's writing letters to legislators, that ought to be good enough for the county to slow the track," Schron said in a phone call with Scene this month.

The Policy Matters Ohio post was published less than 24 hours before the Q deal will be discussed at a City Council committee hearing tomorrow morning. Council President Kevin Kelly confirmed this morning that he was in support of the deal and that he expected its eventual passage.

Kelley was not asked whether or not he'd consider postponing the vote, though councilpeople have told Scene that the longer the vote is delayed, the harder it will be for city council to pass. With all 17 council seats up for grabs this year, east side councilpeople in particular — whose wards are, on balance, more opposed to the Q deal — won't want their votes to be fresh in the minds of their constituents come September. When Kelley was asked about his own constituents' take on the deal, he said many of them weren't familiar with the financial nuances at play, but that they were curious.

"They say, 'Does this mean we're getting an All-Star Game?'" Kelley said.  

County Council is also expected to vote tomorrow on its resolution authorizing the sale of county bonds, which will generate the initial $140 million for the project.

Meanwhile, in nationwide stadium financing news: NFL owners voted 31-1 today to permit the Oakland Raiders franchise to move to Las Vegas. That means, as reported in 2016, that citizens of Oakland and Alameda County will now have to pay the $95 million they still owe in debt on the Raiders' stadium upgrade from 1995, though their team will be playing 550 miles away.


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