Hamilton County Commission

Amy Spasoff / Memorial Hall

Update: 02/04/2015

Over-the-Rhine's historic Memorial Hall is ready to undergo major renovations. Hamilton County Commissioners today agreed to enter a development agreement with 3CDC to update and operate the 600-seat performance hall.

All three commissioners voted 'yes' on the project, which includes a $1.5 million contribution from the county.

 

Original post date: 02/02/2015 3:27 p.m.

Memorial Hall in Over-the-Rhine is poised to undergo renovations if Hamilton County Commissioners sign off on the project.

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

An aluminum tile wall in the Hamilton County Justice Center lobby is falling down and ArtWorks has a plan to fix it.

"It's going to cost us the same amount of money to either remediate that wall and paint it white," says Lisa Webb with the county budget office, "or have ArtWorks come in and put a beautiful mural up on the wall."

Webb says the current decorative aluminum tiles are coming off the wall, creating a public safety hazard.

The Sheriff's office, county officials and ArtWorks will soon begin brainstorming ideas to replace the tiles with a painting.

Hamilton County's budget office reports the county has spent roughly $460,000 prosecuting suspended juvenile court judge Tracie Hunter.

When including what the county spent in other Hunter-related court cases, the county says it spent more than $1.4 million in 2013 and 2014.

The Reverend Damon Lynch III and others Wednesday asked Commissioners to halt Hunter's retrial. The commissioners pay the bills, but have no say in whether or not the prosecution goes forward.

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

Hamilton County Commission President Greg Hartmann says talks with the city about shared services are going well and he's optimistic.

He says a public meeting is being scheduled between the board, the mayor and Cincinnati Council's Major Transportation and Regional Cooperation Committee "to discuss opportunities for sharing and collaborating on services where we can achieve cost savings and improve efficiencies."

Bill Rinehart / WVXU

Chris Monzel has taken the oath of office for his second term as a Hamilton County Commissioner.  With his wife and three children beside him, Monzel repeated the oath, as read by his mother.

And his fellow Republican, Greg Hartmann was elected to be the new president of the three-member commission for the next two years. 

Monzel said when he was first elected to the board in 2010, he said county government could not be operated “business as usual”.

Sarah Ramsey / WVXU

Hamilton County Commissioners gather Monday for their annual organizational meeting.

Greg Hartmann is expected to take over as board president.

He says says jobs, public safety, and dealing with Metropolitan Sewer District issues top his plans for 2015.

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

It's official: Metropolitan Sewer District rates will go up 5.5 percent next year.

Sewer rates have been increasing every year to pay for the multi-billion dollar federally mandated system overhaul. Hamilton County Commissioners Wednesday approved MSD's 2015 budget despite fresh conflict with the city over the Lick Run project.

The county's utility oversight director says 5.5 percent breaks down this way:

The 2014 quarterly bill is $110.71 for a typical single family residential customer (or $442.84 per year)

Provided / Hamilton County Commission

Great American Ball Park is getting some new seats in time for the 2015 All Star Game.

About five years after the stadium was built, the Reds noticed some of the seats were breaking. The company that made them fixed some. A competing vender quoted $5 million to fix everything.

Instead, Hamilton County Stadium Director Joe Feldkamp says he's found two local companies that will do the job for less, and support another county initiative in the process.

Hamilton County Sheriff's Department

The Hamilton County Sheriff's Department will get two new motorcycles after all.

Commissioners questioned the purchase request last week. But Greg Hartmann says he's satisfied with the Sheriff's response.

"I'm convinced an efficient and legitimate law enforcement purpose was established," says Hartmann.

Hamilton County Sheriff's Department

The Hamilton County Sheriff's Department is responding to Commissioner Greg Hartmann's request for more information about its motorcycle patrol.

Last week, the department asked to buy two new Harley Davidson motorcycles.

Hartmann questioned the purchase given the county's tight budget. "What are they going to be used for? Additional patrols? Are additional staff going to be used to need them? These are not replacement motorcycles."

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

Work is underway setting up a structure and oversight committee for the Union Terminal repair project. County Administrator Christian Sigman says "this is very similar to what the city and the county did with the Joint Banks Steering Committee."

Like The Banks, the Union Terminal project will be done under a public/private partnership. A project manager has not been hired yet.

In November, taxpayers approved a five year, quarter cent sales tax to fund the upgrades.
 

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

As Hamilton County Commissioners are faced with raising sewer rates again, they're wondering if there's another way to find some relief for ratepayers.

Commission president Chris Monzel says "it's staggering, the amount of money that we have to put into this every year."

He's referring to the multi-billion dollar federal mandate to upgrade the county's sewer system.

Commissioner Greg Hartmann agrees. "Ratepayers are just getting absolutely soaked," he says.

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

As expected, Hamilton County Commissioners approved the 2015 general fund budget Monday. The spending plan is much the same as 2014's.

Commission President Chris Monzel says "the public themselves are not going to see any hit to the services that they're receiving. So it should be no difference from this year to next year."

The $201.6 million budget keeps spending mostly flat. There's an increase for economic development and 9-1-1 dispatch fees will go up 5 percent. Police and fire agencies opposed that increase.

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

  *Correction* The money for carrying costs on the Mt. Airy property will come from the county's Capital Budget NOT the General Fund budget.

When Hamilton County Commissioners pass a 2015 budget next week, it will likely look a lot like the one put forward Wednesday by the Republican majority. The consensus plan between Greg Hartmann and Chris Monzel sets spending at $202 million, slightly above this year.

Monzel says the plan is balanced.

The Cincinnati Bengals are a step closer to getting that new scoreboard. Hamilton County is reviewing bids to replace the scoreboard and control room.

County finance specialist Erica Riehl expects the total will be about $10 million based on bids the county received.

The county is required to pay for the upgrade, however, under a bargain struck last year, the Bengals are chipping in $2.5 million.

The contract will likely be awarded by the end of the year.

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