Hamilton County Commission

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.

Hamilton County's commissioners are tinkering with next year's budget.  But don't expect big changes to what's being spent this year.

"2015 is going to be another lean year in Hamilton County," says Commissioner Greg Hartmann.

The county administrator recommended creating a sales tax to balance the 2015 budget and build a new crime lab to replace the county's small outdated one.

Commissioners are now offering their alternatives.

The first of several public hearings on the proposed 2015 Hamilton County general fund budget is Thursday evening.

Commissioners will hold a meeting at the Green Township Trustee building at 6:30 p.m.

The county administrator is recommending a $210.7 million spending plan that calls for a quarter cent sales tax increase.

If Hamilton County voters approve a sales tax increase to repair Union Terminal, the work will be done under a public/private partnership.

Commissioners are directing the county administrator to begin drafting an agreement to set up the public-private partnership or P3.

Under this option, a private group like 3CDC would handle all the repair planning.

Hamilton County Commissioners are considering the administration's proposed budget for next year.

Most notably, County administrator Christian Sigman's $210.7 million proposal calls for a quarter cent sales tax increase.

As Hamilton County works on the 2015 budget, Commissioner Greg Hartmann is floating an idea he thinks could save money. He'd like to combine the city and county prosecutor offices.

"The city prosecutor's office makes absolutely no sense to me," says Hartmann. "It's an obvious overlap. When I was a county prosecutor I walked into that courtroom on my first day in municipal court and there was another city prosecutor in the same courtroom prosecuting the same crimes that just happened to have been committed in the city limits."

Later this fall, you'll no longer have to drive Downtown or to Forest Park to get a vehicle title. Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Tracy Winkler is opening another titling office in the Fields-Ertel area.

Winkler says the office will offer all kinds of vehicle titling and eventually passport processing.