Wednesday, March 3, 2004

Voters pass museum levy

'It's humbling to see the kind of support we've received'

By Kevin Aldridge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Cincinnati Museum Center volunteer Nicholas Louis Hoesl talks to Tina Bamert, a library assistant at the Cincinnati Historical Society Library, as they wait for the results of the museum levy Tuesday.
The Cincinnati Enquirer/MEGGAN BOOKER

Voters Tuesday approved a proposed 0.2-mill operating levy that would provide almost $3.7 million a year for the museum center at Union Terminal in Queensgate, according to unofficial results.

With 99 percent of the precincts counted, results showed the levy was overwhelmingly passing, 64 percent to 36 percent.

The museum levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $5.89 a year. It is one of the smallest levy requests in more than 50 years.

About 350 supporters and volunteers gathered at Union Terminal to celebrate the passage of the levy. There was plenty of laughter, smiles and hugs as streamers and balloons shot into the air.

"It's humbling to see the kind of support we've received," said Doug McDonald, president of the nonprofit center. "It is a wonderful statement about the people of Hamilton County. It shows this community really does believe in what takes place at the museum center and that this is truly an important and treasured architectural building."

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McDonald said the levy will give the center financial stability and allow for officials to make much-needed repairs to the building. He said museum officials would now conduct building assessments to determine which repairs will have the highest priority.

"We have spent a fortune on the stadium, and I wanted to make sure the terminal got its share," said Liddell Marsh, 54, of Westwood, who voted in favor of the levy.

The center, which includes the Children's Museum, the Museum of Natural History and Science, the Omnimax theater and the Cincinnati History Museum, sees more than 1 million visitors a year.

Museum officials said the center might not have been able to operate in three years without public support.

McDonald said the museum historically has relied on earned income, private support and investment income. But those revenue streams have dwindled following the April 2001 riots and the Sept. 11 attacks.


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