On Thursday, March 6, 2008 City of Cleveland City Councilors Zack Reed and Brian Cummins addressed the media and the County Commissioners at the Commissioners scheduled meeting on the fourth floor of the County Administration Building. Following is the text of the statement that Mr. Cummins presented to the Commission.


Put It On The Ballot

Citizen’s group calls for repeal of County sales tax, reinstatement of Convention Facility Authority, and transparent and collaborative process for planning and implementation of Medical Mart

News Release - March 6, 2008

Contact: Brian Cummins

Put It On The Ballot calls on the Cuyahoga County
Commissioners to repeal the sales tax passed for the convention facility,
reinstate the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Convention Facility Authority (CFA),
and provide an open, collaborative and competitive process for planning and
implementing a strategy for creating a Medical Mart.

If the additional .25% tax would be repealed as of July
2008 (the next available quarter a repeal could take effect) the county is estimated to collect $32,000,000 for the 9-month period October 2007 – June 2008.
The county should retain this funding in a restricted account for purposes of utilizing the funding if and when the convention facility/medical mart negotiations are finalized. The County Commissioners should charge a newly constituted CFA to set a date certain for negotiations to be concluded. The more regionally representative and transparent CFA should be utilized to manage the planning and implementation of a convention facility/medical mart.

The County Commissioners should also develop and approve a plan for the re-allocation of the tax in the event a convention
facility/medical mart is deemed not feasible. Previously the Commissioners have estimated that approximately $20 - $25 million of the estimated annual tax receipts of $43 million would be needed for convention facility/medical mart. Such a reallocation plan should take into account the continuing use of the existing convention facility as well as the priority needs of the county and municipalities that have contributed to this funding through the tax.

The tax is being collected under the County’s general fund and although the funding was intended[1] and is earmarked for the convention facility/medical mart, the Commissioners decided to pass the .25% tax without a vote of the people. The commissioners used the State law[2]
that allows for a passage of a tax without a vote of the people as long as the
additional revenue is used to provide funding for the County’s general fund. The State law provides for such a tax to be levied for the express purposes of a convention facilities authority, but in doing so would require a vote of the people.

The County Commissioners are called to take these actions to rebuild the trust of Cuyahoga County residents and to provide a transparent, accountable, collaborative and competitive process for which a convention facility/medical mart can be supported by the public, realized and achieve success in providing economic development benefits to the region.

[1] Cleveland Medical Mart &
Tradeshow Facility Paired with a new Cleveland Convention Center, July, 2007

5739.026 County sales tax for specific
purposes, sections A1 and A3.