Commissioners Incensed Over MSD Spending

Feb 3, 2016

Commissioner Todd Portune (left) wants an early end to the city-county partnership. Chris Monzel (center) and Dennis Deters (right) want more accountability.
Credit Bill Rinehart / WVXU

Hamilton County leaders have strong words about how Cincinnati runs the Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD).  Their remarks came after an Enquirer report alleging mismanagement and possible overspending. 

Hamilton County owns the system, but it's operated by the city. Commissioner Dennis Deters compared city actions to teenagers having a party while their parents are out of town.

“The city’s proven that it can’t be trusted with respect to the operations at MSD,” Deters says. “And I’d urge the board to consider some policy implementations including possibly an audit that may aid us in resolving this long-standing problem.”

Under an agreement that expires in April 2018, the county owns the sewer district and is responsible for its budget. The city manages it and owns the assets it brought to the deal in 1968. 

Commissioner Todd Portune is reiterating his call to end the partnership early.

“We need to put an end immediately to the arrangement that has produced a lack of clarity as to who is, in fact, in charge.”

Commission President Chris Monzel called for a quick resolution to the question of ownership, but stopped short of saying the partnership should be dissolved.

Cincinnati Council members are also reacting to the report.  Amy Murray says former Metropolitan Sewer District Director Tony Parrott shouldn't have had carte blanche on spending.

“The amount that he passed in that period of time is like three times the city’s budget,” she says. “And yet City Council, we scrutinize every $5,000, $10,000 payment to make sure that we’re doing the best for the taxpayers.  And yet this kind of nonsense goes on at MSD?”

Parrott resigned last year to take a similar position in Louisville.