Keep it simple: ‘Sin tax’ renewal will create jobs

The following message was published by Cleveland Building & Construction Trades Council Chairman David J. Wondolowski in “The Labor Citizen” on March 17, 2014…

Having the ability to share an important message with so many members of assorted labor trades is one of the primary reasons we created The Labor Citizen. Similarly, I promised to only submit a column on “matters of extreme importance” to us all.

Convincing voters in Cuyahoga County to pass the 20-year renewal of the “sin tax” on the May ballot is without question one of those important matters.

Plain and simple, ensuring the revenue to maintain FirstEnergy Stadium, Progressive Field and Quicken Loans Arena means jobs. All maintenance and construction work at all three of these facilities are done exclusively by our members.

Members who live and vote in Cuyahoga County must show up at the polls and cast a vote in favor of the renewal. Please encourage other members of your family to do the same.

And should you have an opportunity to discuss this issue with other Cuyahoga County voters, here’s some information to help make your case.

— This vote does not raise any “new” taxes.

— The tax currently costs about two cents a beer, a penny on a glass of wine and less

than a nickel on a pack of cigarettes.

— The three buildings are owned by Cuyahoga County, not the teams or the

teams’ owners. No money from the tax goes to pay athletes and none of the money

goes to team owners.

— Under the terms in the leases negotiated with the teams, taxpayers are obligated to finance the maintenance and renovations.

— The facilities create significant benefits for Cleveland and the county. It attracts visitors, boosts the local economy, supports thousands of jobs and generates tax revenue.

A 20-year extension is estimated to raise at least $260 million. The Cavs and Indians have already submitted an estimated $135 million in work that will be needed over the next 10 years — including a new roof at Quicken Loans Arena and almost $24 million for scoreboard-related upgrades. The Browns, so far, have outlined nearly $24 million in needed repairs.

Here’s what I said to the media last month when the campaign for the renewal started. Feel free to use any of this yourself.

“It makes sense to preserve these buildings and extend their life, and that means making repairs when needed.

“It’s just like owning a house – after 20 years it’s often time for a new roof and a new furnace. For about two cents a beer, we can generate a revenue stream that will ensure that these structures are kept in major league condition. It’s a small but sound investment not only in the buildings, but in the future of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County.”

The primary election is on May 6. You will see another reminder on this subject in the April edition of The Labor Citizen.

A worthy cause

A “Mission Complete” ceremony was held March 1 to commemorate the completion of the first “Purple Heart Homes” in Ohio.

Sgt. Demond Taylor, a veteran of Iraq now working for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affair, is now living in a completely renovated home in South Euclid, thanks to the non-profit organization.

Taylor has brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of his experiences during his service.

A great deal of the renovation work for this project was completed by volunteers from Cleveland Building Trades unions.

I’d like to personally thank everyone that volunteered their time or helped in any way. This is a great cause and just another example of how union members give back to their communities.

Work on a second home has already started and is expected to be finished in late summer. I know many of the same volunteers are planning to pitch in again.


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