Hamilton County Commission

Commission supports Gov's budget

Feb 6, 2013
Karen Kasler / Ohio Public Radio

All three Hamilton County Commissioners are optimistic about Governor John Kasich's proposed state budget.

Republicans Chris Monzel and Greg Hartmann call the plan bold and filled with a lot of changes that could affect county government. Hartmann adds the proposed budget has the potential to be revolutionary.

Democrat Todd Portune agrees. He especially likes the plans for Medicaid.

More on the budget from Ohio Public Radio:

Sarah Ramsey

Greg Hartmann and Todd Portune were officially sworn in Wednesday to serve their new terms on Hamilton County Commission.

Hartmann repeated his mantra that these are challenging times for county government but says there are bright spots as well, like the county Land Bank.

Hamilton County Commissioners are throwing out hiring and procurement policies related to the Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD).

The city, which operates MSD had instituted new bidding requirements the county, which owns MSD, says were unfair- and in some cases illegal. Chief among them were apprenticeship requirements and a policy giving preference to contractors within city limits.

Commission President Chris Monzel says a working group will be formed to draft a new procurement policy.

WVXU

Hamilton County Commissioners reorganized Monday with Chris Monzel assuming the presidency.

Monzel says he plans to stay the course laid out by fellow commissioner Greg Hartmann.

"Definitely public safety is the number one priority for Hamilton County. And it's something that's important and especially with the new Sheriff coming on board of what the public safety needs are. So that's number one, that's always been the number one priority to me in government," he says.

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

Hamilton County Commissioners are ordering a performance and efficiency review of the Metropolitan Sewer District.

The utility is undertaking a multi-billion dollar, federally mandated system upgrade.

Commissioner Chris Monzel proposed the review.

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

Hamilton County Commissioners have approved a 5-percent rate increase for Metropolitan Sewer District customers starting January 9.  Sewer rates have been climbing for several years to pay for a $ 3.2 billion system upgrade required to comply with the federal Clean Water Act.

Commissioner Todd Portune said about 780 other local governments are in the same position at a cost of more than $500 billion.

Sewer rates in Hamilton County will likely go up again next year, though not quite as much as expected.

The Metropolitan Sewer District is recommending County Commissioners  approve a five percent increase for each of the next five years. That's less than the eight percent rates went up in 2012. Sewer District Director Tony Parrott says the smaller projected increases are possible because of reduced costs related to changes in a project along the Lower Mill Creek.

Angry employees and people who regularly use the Hamilton County Recorder's office packed Commission chambers Wednesday. They want funding restored to the Recorder's budget so he won't go through with closing the office on Friday's.

Earlier this month Wayne Coates announced the four-day work week is needed to manage the nearly 25 percent cut to his 2013 budget.

Paul Berlage with the Southwestern Ohio Land Title Association says avoiding filing delays is paramount.

If you need to file documents in Hamilton County, you'll have one fewer day per week to do so.

Michael Keating

It's down to either raising the sales tax or reducing the property tax rebate.

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

Hamilton County Commissioners are pushing back the date to pass a 2013 general fund budget.

Board President Greg Hartmann's plan has two votes but he'd prefer to present a unified front and have it pass unanimously.

Lone Democrat Todd Portune says, "no offense to Hartmann" but...

Hamilton County Commissioners are hammering out the 2013 budget. Lone democrat Todd Portune released his proposal today/yesterday. Key to his 5-year plan is generating extra funds through a state provision allowing counties with land banks to issue securities based on expected tax revenues.

"While the use of this vehicle is limited to counties that are land bank counties, nowhere in the legislation, and nowhere have I found, are the use of the proceeds limited to just land bank activities," he says.

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

Memorial Hall is one of Hamilton County's storied venues but it often sits empty because of a lack of modern amenities like air conditioning.

The Memorial Hall Society, 3CDC and Hamilton County Commissioners are considering a partnership to revitalize the building.

Society president Bill Baumann says, "Our vision for Memorial Hall is to help it transition from an underutilized facility to and active arts center with a diverse offering of music concerts and other performing arts programs, film presentations, lectures and art exhibitions."

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

After rejecting three proposed budget options put forward by the county administrator, Hamilton County Commissioners plan to offer their own spending plans Monday morning.

Hamilton County Commissioners are modifying the approval process for something called "then and now" resolutions proposed by the Public Health District.

The resolutions allow the district to pay organizations it does business with.

Commissioner Chris Monzel says the district shouldn't have to get approval from the board and a legal opinion from the county prosecutor agrees.

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