The struggling Cincinnati Museum Center is seeking help from the county

The Cincinnati Museum Center is requesting an advance from Hamilton County on reserve funds from sales tax that will be used to renovate and repair the Union Terminal.

This 0.25% sales tax ended on March 31, and after construction is completed in 2018, reserves of approximately $ 20 to 25 million will be available.

It was planned that the district, in cooperation with the advisory committee for the restoration of the terminal terminal, would eventually transfer these reserve funds to the museum center for future maintenance and upkeep.

District Administrator Jeff Aluotto spoke about the issue during the Hamilton County Commission meeting Thursday and sent a memo to commissioners with additional information.

The memo said the museum center is closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and is losing $ 1 million to $ 2 million in revenue every month.

Officials have cut salaries and benefits for the executive team and suspended contributions to pension funds.

If the closure continues beyond this month, the center will have to downsize and cut wages for those who remain employed.

“You have requested at least 7 million US dollars, possibly up to 10 million US dollars, to pay off the remaining construction debt,” Aluotto told the commissioners. “This will free up around $ 500,000 in operating capital for them, as well as some other funding for additional maintenance capital.”

The district asks the public prosecutor to confirm whether these are eligible expenses that are to be financed with reserve funds for sales tax. Aluotto said he would recommend the rendition if prosecutors deem it appropriate.

“This is a good time to take action where we can,” said Denise Driehaus, president of the county commission. “So I’ll be happy to support this, provided that the prosecutor’s opinion marries what we all think is happening here.”

The Commission could vote on the funding request next week.

Hamilton County’s voters approved a five-year sales tax of 0.25% in 2014 to restore the Art Deco building. In July 2016, work began on the $ 228 million effort to repair the exterior, aging interiors and utilities of the 85-year-old building.

Although the 0.25% sales tax for Union Terminal ended on March 31, the tax itself did not go away. The Hamilton County Commissioners voted to keep the tax on hold last year and it is now being used for the county’s general fund expenses.

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