Hamilton County General Fund Sales Tax Basics

Hamilton County's combined sales tax rate is 7 percent. A large chunk of that 7 percent goes to the State of Ohio. Smaller portions of the sales tax go to fund the stadiums, Union Terminal and the County's General Fund. In 2013, the State of Ohio increased its sales tax rate to 5.75 percent. Hamilton County's general fund portion of the sales tax rate has been 0.5 percent since 1970. Here's the sales tax breakdown:

County Sales Tax Breakdown: 5.75% State Sales Tax+ 0.5% Stadium Tax + 0.5% General Fund + 0.25% Union Terminal = 7% County Sales Peer Counties: Hamilton County receives less in sales tax than other peer counties

Continuing the one-quarter percent sales tax that is currently set to expire in April of 2020 will generate $20 million in 2020 and approximately $40 million annually thereafter. This is not expected to solve the entire projected county deficit. Efficiencies and prudent budgeting are also needed to close the gap in the General Fund.

Sales Tax Fun Facts:

  • Hamilton County's 0.5% sales tax currently produces $80 million and makes up a third of the General Fund.
  • Hamilton County’s sales tax rate has remained unchanged since half-cent sales tax took effect in 1970- nearly 50 years ago!
  • Of Ohio's 88 counties, 55 have higher combined sales tax rates than Hamilton County.
  • In recent years, 25 of Ohio's 88 counties increased sales tax to help offset state cuts and solve public safety issues.

Public Hearings:

  • Tues., Oct. 1 - BOCC Received Independent Financial Review Report *
  • Thurs., Oct. 3 - 6:30 pm Public Hearing at Sharonville Convention Center
  • Tues., Oct. 8 - 6:30 pm Public Hearing at Silverton Town Hall
  • Thurs., Oct. 10 - 1:15 pm Public Hearing at Hamilton County Admin Building

*Commissioners partnered with the Cincinnati Business Committee to provide an independent, thorough analysis of the county’s structural deficit. The review found "the general fund will require revenue enhancement in 2020." And "The 0.25% sales tax dedicated to the general fund will allow for the 2020 general fund budget to more closely balance, when coupled with efficiencies."


Hamilton County General Fund Budget Basics

Hamilton County's general fund is the primary source of funding for core services and state-mandated functions such as operating a county jail and managing 911 Services. 70 percent of general fund revenues go towards public safety. Hamilton County has a structural imbalance due to state cuts, stagnant revenues and increasing costs.

Chart showing forecasted expenses exceeding revenues by close to $50M by 2024
  • Projected Structual Imbalance $20 - $40 MM ( For 2019 and Beyond )
  • State Cuts -$13 MM (Annually since 2000 )
  • Medicaid Managed Care -$6 MM (Annually because of law change )

Exhausting All Other Options:

Hamilton County is currently spending at the same level as 2000. Since the recession in 2008, Commissioners cut the County budget by a third. They reduced the workforce by approximately 750 position, froze wages, furloughed employees, sold properties (Drake Hospital, 237 William Howard Taft, etc.), restructured debt, instituted health care solutions, invested in energy efficiencies, implemented shared services, eliminated nonessential programs, and closed a jail. Sales Tax revenue - which averaged over 7% annual growth from 1970s through 1990s- has fundamentally changed, now averaging 1.5% annual growth for almost 20 years.

The proposed 2020 Budget is balanced at $276 million by continuing the one-quarter percent sales tax that is currently set to expire in April of 2020. The Administrator's proposed budget prioritizes public safety, infrastructure, and local communities.

Prioritizes Public Safety

  • Supports Diversion, Treatment, and Reentry Services to free up Jail Beds
  • Sustainably Funds Operation of Crime Lab
  • Funds Jail Management Technology

Addresses Needed Infrastructure & Technology

  • Preserves iconic County buildings including 100 year-old Courthouse and Juvenile Court at 800 Broadway
  • Addresses $200 million in deferred capital maintenance
  • Invests in technology to enhance efficiency of operations

Strengthens Communities

  • Shifts burden of 911 detail rates back to County so communities can reinvest in public safety
  • Strengthens partnerships promoting revitalization including infrastructure development, site readiness and housing.

County General Fund Does Not Support:

  • The Banks
  • Stadiums
  • MSD
Posted on 10/22/2019