Chris Monzel

Sarah Ramsey / WVXU

Hamilton County is moving in the right direction and continuing to be strong despite facing challenging times. That's how Commission President Chris Monzel led off his 2014 State of the County address Thursday.

The speech focused on the three main priorities from last year's address: county infrastructure, finances and economic development.

Monzel pointed out the county is looking at how to best utilize its building stock and also take advantage of its newest acquisition - the former Mercy Mount Airy hospital site.

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

Hamilton County Commissioner Chris Monzel is clarifying what he says are some misconceptions about the current Metropolitan Sewer District standoff with the City of Cincinnati. Specifically, procurement policies set forth by the city which the county says are unfair and in some cases illegal.

"First, at this point, only three projects are potentially being impacted due to this issue," he says. "Several others are awaiting technical evaluation and others are scheduled to be brought forward over the next several months. Many of the projects do not have time sensitive schedules."

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

Cincinnati and Hamilton County officials continue to hash out a compromise on several hiring and bidding policies related to the Metropolitan Sewer District.

An August 1 deadline has come and gone, meaning a city moratorium on the policies has expired. That led County Commissioners Wednesday to halt the bidding process for an upcoming project.

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

Hamilton County Commissioners are expected to vote Wednesday morning on re-opening the bidding process on some Metropolitan Sewer District projects.

The board initiated the moratorium to force renewed talks between the county and the city, which runs the sewer district. At issue are several city initiated hiring policies and practices the county dislikes, and in some cases says are illegal.

The county is re-opening the bid process following a city council vote two weeks ago to suspend the hiring policies until August.

Sarah Ramsey

City and county officials now have about five weeks to try to work out a compromise on several Metropolitan Sewer District policies (MSD).

Council voted unanimously Wednesday to suspend its local hiring policy until August 1. Until then the sides will try to reach an agreement on it and a portion of a responsible bidder policy that requires apprenticeships.

Sarah Ramsey

Just days after announcing a compromise, county and city leaders could be heading back to square one.

Hamilton County Commissioner Chris Monzel had planned to lead a vote Wednesday to reopen the bidding process for Metropolitan Sewer District projects. The board instituted a moratorium several weeks ago when Cincinnati City Council refused to scrap its local hiring and responsible bidder requirements.

Hamilton County Commissioners Wednesday approved a two-year policy document.

The resolution outlines the board's guiding agenda for 2013 and 2014.

Board President Chris Monzel drafted the policy and says it continues the agenda set out by his predecessor and fellow commissioner Greg Hartmann.

The document focuses on three key areas: county finances and taxes, infrastructure, and economic development.

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

Hamilton County is "on the move and getting stronger." That was the theme of Commission President Chris Monzel's State of the County address Thursday.

Monzel talked about the importance of keeping taxes low and how the Governor's proposed budget could benefit the ailing county stadium fund.

He says the county is also focused on infrastructure projects, especially the multi-billion dollar federally mandated sewer system upgrade. One money-saving plan involves ‘daylighting’ a stream to capture storm water rather than building a costly tunnel.

Sarah Ramsey

Greg Hartmann and Todd Portune were officially sworn in Wednesday to serve their new terms on Hamilton County Commission.

Hartmann repeated his mantra that these are challenging times for county government but says there are bright spots as well, like the county Land Bank.

Hamilton County Commissioners are throwing out hiring and procurement policies related to the Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD).

The city, which operates MSD had instituted new bidding requirements the county, which owns MSD, says were unfair- and in some cases illegal. Chief among them were apprenticeship requirements and a policy giving preference to contractors within city limits.

Commission President Chris Monzel says a working group will be formed to draft a new procurement policy.