News: Cigarette tax a windfall for the arts

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In Cleveland, a cigarette tax has yielded $15 million to be distributed to 68 eligible cultural organizations in each of the next three years. That's $45 million from 2008 to 2011. Some pretty forward thinking from a city that used to be known as the armpit of America.

Here's a portion of yesterday's story in the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

Cuyahoga Arts and Culture will distribute $15 million to nonprofit arts and cultural organizations in each of the next three years.

Officials for the agency, which was created to administer the cigarette tax approved by Cuyahoga County voters last year, say they expect the tax will draw $19 million this year and next year and about $17.5 million in 2009.

That's a bit short of the $20 million that had been touted during the campaign for the tax, but executive director Catherine Boyle said a recent state law banning smoking in public places already has lowered cigarette sales. The agency is predicting about a 7 percent annual decline in cigarette-tax revenues, levied at 1.5 cents per cigarette, for the foreseeable future.

Sixty-eight organizations qualified for three years of operational support during a public review in October. The first checks will go out in January. Dollar amounts are based on budget size, with proportionately more money going to smaller organizations.

Full story . . .

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