Hamilton County Commission

Hamilton County Commissioners could vote Wednesday morning on whether to accept the offer of the former Mercy Mt. Airy hospital.

Catholic Health Partners is offering to give it to the county for use as a new crime lab but that plan's in limbo over a proposal to move the Board of Elections there as well.

The elections board is split on the idea. Those in favor say it makes financial sense. Those opposed say moving the board out of downtown will restrict access to early voting.

The county leases the board's current downtown location.

Hamilton County Commissioners continue to weigh an offer to turn the former Mercy Mount Airy hospital into a new crime lab.

Catholic Health Partners is willing to give the facility to the county for free and the county coroner says the cost to renovate the old hospital would be a lot less than building a whole new crime lab. To make the deal cost effective, however, the county wants to move the Board of Elections out there as well.

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

Hamilton County Commissioners say they're willing to work with the city but when it comes to making Metropolitan Sewer District decisions, they're in charge.

In a resolution passed Wednesday the board agreed to set inclusion goals similar to the aim of the city's Responsible Bidder ordinance. The county says that ordinance is unfair. It also dislikes the city's Local Preference policy and says it's illegal.

Hamilton County will pay nearly $2 million to clean up a mercury spill last summer at two Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) sites and the Rumpke Landfill in Colerain Township.

*Update*  The Hamilton County Tax Levy Review Committee is recommending the Developmental Disabilities Levy be put on the May ballot as a flat renewal. The TLRC also recommends the agency implement the consultant's recommendations listed below.

Hamilton County Commissioners will hear more details Monday about the upcoming Developmental Disabilities Levy.

The Tax Levy Review Committee makes its recommendation to the board Monday morning.

A consultant's report on the Hamilton County Developmental Disabilities Services levy is recommending the tax rate remain unchanged when it comes up for a vote in May. The agency has requested its levy rate remain flat.

The report will be officially presented Monday to the Tax Levy Review Committee.

The consulting group also recommends the agency:

The initial report on Hamilton County's facilities needs is in and it paints a picture of aging buildings and deferred maintenance. With some offices bursting at the seams and others only half full, the county is looking at ways to consolidate operations.

One possibility is converting the former Mercy Mt. Airy hospital to hold the coroner, board of elections and some sheriff's offices.

Commissioners Greg Hartmann and Todd Portune  says while this may seem like a good deal, the county needs to keep an eye on costs.

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

Like water rates, sewer rates in Hamilton County are increasing.

County Commissioners approved the Metropolitan Sewer District's 2014 budget, which includes a six percent rate hike. MSD is undergoing a massive multi-billion dollar system overhaul required by a federal consent decree.

MSD had asked for a $226.7 million operating budget but the county's new utility oversight director, Dave Meyer, says the sewer district can get by with $210.7 million. Commissioners chose to follow Meyer's recommendation.

For every $100,000 worth of property value, Hamilton County homeowners will get about $46 back on their tax bills next year.

The Cincinnati Museum Center has some work to do before Hamilton County Commissioners will put a requested levy before taxpayers.

The board Wednesday opted to take the recommendation of the Tax Levy Review Committee and postpone any decision on the levy request until after July. The Museum Center has until then to come up with a plan and funds for repairing and restoring Union Terminal.

Hamilton County Commissioners plan to vote Wednesday on the size of the property tax rebate homeowners will receive next year.

The PTR was promised to taxpayers when the sales tax was increased to fund the new Reds and Bengals stadiums.

Commissioner Greg Hartmann is floating a plan that would fund the PTR at $12 million.

"This year the property tax rebate was $10 million distributed to people that own property in Hamilton County," says Hartmann. "Next year it will be $12 million, which will be divvied up. It's about $42 per $100,000 of (property) value."

Hamilton County Commissioners approved the 2014 general fund budget Wednesday.

The $204.1 million spending plan was nearly unchanged from the plan presented by county administration. The only difference being redirecting $6.65 million in indigent care levy funds from the UC Medical Center to cover a gap in the Sheriff's inmate care budget.

The budget Hamilton County Commissioners vote on later this week will likely look a lot like the one proposed by county administration.

Board President Chris Monzel is suggesting just one change. The proposed budget calls for cutting $6.65 million in indigent care levy funds from the UC Medical Center and using it to cover a gap in the Sheriff's inmate care budget.

In his proposal, Monzel writes:

Hamilton County Commissioners are slated to vote next week on the 2014 general fund budget. Board President Chris Monzel will present some adjustments Monday to the current proposal and he's hoping for universal agreement.

Commissioner Greg Hartmann says what likely won't be in the budget is a response to last weeks appeal from the county coroner for a new crime lab.

Updated 2pm

When out-of-towners stay in are hotels, Hamilton County benefits from the transit occupancy tax.

The tourist tax was used to build the Cincinnati and Sharonville convention centers. A large portion is still used to cover the debt service on those projects and the rest goes to the Convention and Visitors Bureau to promote tourism.

Monday, the County Administration laid out options to County Commissioners for pulling back some of those revenues and using them elsewhere.

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