Hamilton County Commissioners Still Wrestling With 2018 Budgets

Dec 18, 2017

Hamilton County commissioners have several budget proposals and not a lot of time to reconcile them. Board President Todd Portune wants a vote on Wednesday. He turned in his ideas Monday morning, admitting they weren't complete.

"There are items that still need to be finalized before we're going to know exactly what amounts do exist at year-end balance, what amounts may still be able to be applied to certain items and how they affect the bottom line, and ultimately how that bottom line affects the issue of whether we need to consider the recommended 1 mill increase in the (property) transfer tax," Portune says.

That millage increase was proposed to help fund the county's 911 system. It would raise an estimated $3.7 million a year.

Commissioner Chris Monzel is opposed. "Given the health of our real estate industry right now, I don't want to go out there and do something that would be a negative consequence on it."

Portune's budget proposal includes the transfer tax hike or looking at how much money the county has left over from this year and using that. Commissioner Denise Driehaus has said she would support the increase.

Metropolitan Sewer District

The MSD budget also comes before Hamilton County commissioners for a vote on Wednesday.

Commissioner Chris Monzel says the proposal includes cutting spending on consultants.

"I do think we need to reduce that budget and go forward on how we're going to be transitioning this next year. I don't know if $2 million is the right number. I think that might be a little steep."

Earlier this year, commissioners signed an agreement with Cincinnati Council outlining how operations and control of MSD would go from the city to the county.

Monzel says he believes people want MSD to spend money on fixing the sewers, not on consultants.

"We want to balance ourselves so we don't end up in a situation where we're in this transition and have to go out and rehire folks that maybe cost more money."

Monzel says eliminating some unfilled positions could make up some of the difference.

Overall, the operating request is 8 percent less than the 2017 budget.