Hamilton County Commission

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.

Hamilton County Commissioners are unanimous - the 2014 budget won't include tax increases.

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

Could a Metropolitan Sewer District stalemate between Cincinnati and Hamilton County be coming to an end?

The sides have been at odds over city-enacted hiring policies. The county specifically doesn't like a responsible bidder provision requiring contractors to graduate apprentices (at least one per year for five years).

Councilman Chris Seelbach is proposing a solution he thinks the county will like. He says he's willing to throw out the apprentice graduation requirement in favor of an incentive program.

Michael Keating

Hamilton County Commissioners could take the first steps Wednesday toward balancing the stadium fund for the next five years.

The plan is much the same as last year, but involves a different bank and a three-year deal. Essentially the board would take out an insurance policy with PNC Bank to cover the bulk of the debt and fund what's left from county reserves.

The Banks Partnership

Hamilton County Commissioners are giving their approval to the next phase of the Banks project. The board approved the plan Wednesday.

Project counsel Tom Gableman says Phase II-A will create 706 construction jobs.

"In terms of wages, that's about $30 million," he says. "And the total economic impact, both direct and indirect, is about $115 million."

Announced earlier this month, Phase II-A includes 305 apartments and 21,000 square feet of retail space. Gabelman estimates retail employment will create 345 jobs.

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.

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