Metropolitan Sewer District
12:31 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

County asking federal judge to decide sewer dispute

Credit Tana Weingartner/WVXU

Hamilton County Commissioners are officially asking a federal judge to intervene in their  Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) dispute with Cincinnati.

The board voted unanimously Wednesday to ask for a ruling on which body gets to set policies for the district.

The sewer district is owned by the county but operated by the city.

The sides have been at odds over hiring and procurement policies instituted by the city. County Commissioners argue the policies are unfair and in some cases illegal. City attorneys and a majority of council members disagree.

Cincinnati Council Member Chris Seelbach says, 'The City's legal department is very confident in our ability to set policy for MSD. It's time for County Commissioners to release the funds and get Cincinnati people to work!"

Commission president Chris Monzel says the goal is to have the issue decided once and for all. But he's careful not to call the action a lawsuit against the city. "I think 'suing' is probably not the correct word but rather asking for a judicial interpretation on the roles and responsibilities of the county and the city in regards to the operation of the Metropolitan Sewer District."

County attorneys are expected to file in federal court this week. Monzel says county and city attorneys are meeting Wednesday to discuss the filing. "They want to give (the city)  an opportunity to say 'yes, we'll participate or not' then we have to change some of the words with the city in there."

He expects a decision could take several weeks.

In an emailed statement, Build 513 VP Clement Tsao writes  in part: "We are requesting, under Ohio’s open records law, that the County disclose its contract with Dinsmore & Shohl, the high-priced firm they are paying to sue the city of Cincinnati over an ordinance that promotes local job training."

Build 513 is part of Laborers' International Union of North America.