Hamilton County Commission

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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.

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.

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