• Judge Could Rule on Cincy Billboard Tax Friday

    “Given the judge’s language in the TRO, I would be surprised if he changed his decision at the preliminary injunction stage.  We have a hole in the budget we have to address.”  Cincinnati City Councilman David Mann quoted by WCPO.com

    A Cincinnati court will hold a hearing on Friday concerning the validity of a billboard tax recently passed by the City.  In June 2018, the Cincinnati City Council approved the 2019 operating budget. As a part of the balancing of the budget, the City passed a billboard tax of the higher of 7 percent of the gross receipts or $2 per square foot of sign face.  The City simultaneously quadrupled the cost of a sign construction permit, made the renewal fee eight times more expensive, made renewals more frequent, and created a new fee for changing the sign’s face.

    After the hearing the judge will probably issue a preliminary injunction putting the billboard tax on hold until courts rule on a legal challenge by Lamar and Norton Outdoor.  The court challenge could take years.

    You can read Richard Rothfelder’s legal analysis of the case here.

    Insider’s take:  Instead of tying itself up in years of expensive legal wrangles, why doesn’t Cincinnati look to make up the $837,000 which the billboard tax was going to raise by exploring the feasibility of leasing space on city land to billboard companies so they can install digital billboards?  The city would get much needed funds and avoid the drain of legal fees.  The billboard companies would have the chance to make additional money.  Local business would have the opportunity to market their services to the community.

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