Cranley, Council Members Say Hamilton County Can't Assume It Will Take Over MSD

Dec 9, 2015

An MSD sewage operation
Credit Sarah Ramsey

Mayor John Cranley, along with seven of nine Cincinnati council members, have told  Hamilton County commissioners they will talk about the future of the Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD), but not under the assumption the county will take over control.

In a letter to commissioners Greg Hartmann and Todd Portune Wednesday, Cranley and the council members  rejected the argument that the two commissioners made in a letter to Cranley last month – that MSD, plagued with continuing rate increases and allegations of mismanagement – should hand over MSD operations to the county.

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 its assets brought to the district in 1968.  The commissioners have called on city officials to immediately negotiate a new agreement that, according to the letter last month, “places Hamilton County in sole charge of all (MSD) operations duties and responsibilities.”

Cranley and the council members rejected that suggestion in their letter Wednesday.

“We are willing to enter into negotiations about the future of the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati and the 1968 agreement but we must formally reject most of what the county letter alleges about our well-run MSD,’’ the city’s letter said. “Our negotiations must start from a foundation of good faith and mutual respect and cannot assume the outcome you prefer – a county takeover of MSD.”

The county and the city have been at odds over MSD operations for years. One reason is that the two sides can’t agree on how to achieve a court-ordered $3.1 billion overhaul of the sewer system.

Cranley, in the letter, said the issue should be brought before U.S. District Court Judge Michael Barrett. Cranley pointed out that Portune suggested that in an e-mail to the mayor in May.

Portune proposed talks in May, but nothing has happened since then.

Cranley had seven council members sign his letter to the county commissioners--David Mann, P.G. Sittenfeld, Yvette Simpson, Charlie Winburn, Wendell Young, Kevin Flynn and Chris Seelbach.