Metropolitan Sewer District

Bill Rinehart / WVXU

Update 2:40 p.m.

Hamilton County Commission President Chris Monzel says “The city’s repeated and flagrant disregard of its obligations stated very clearly under the 2014 Federal Court Order made today’s court action necessary. “We respectfully ask the court to enforce its previous order and allow Hamilton County to bring accountability and transparency which are so badly needed in MSD operations.”

Bill Rinehart / WVXU

Chris Monzel says the state of the county is strong.  The Hamilton County commission president delivered the annual State of the County address Thursday. 

Sarah Ramsey

Ohio Auditor of State Dave Yost is launching a special audit of the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati.

Bill Rinehart / WVXU

Hamilton County leaders have strong words about how Cincinnati runs the Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD).  Their remarks came after an Enquirer report alleging mismanagement and possible overspending. 

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

The Lower Mill Creek Partial Remedy Project (LMCPR) is already over budget, according to Hamilton County’s utility monitor.

Dave Meyer told the Hamilton County Commissioners Wednesday the original price tag for the project is at least $13 million short of what it will actually take to complete it. 

Bill Rinehart / WVXU

Update Friday 11:00 a.m.:

Dennis Deters has been sworn into office. Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Tracy Winkler administered the oath of office.

Bill Rinehart / WVXU

Hamilton County Commissioners have approved the 2016 operating budget for the Metropolitan Sewer District. 

The budget delays any rate increase until the middle of next year, after an affordability task force delivers its findings.

Sarah Ramsey

By the middle of the month, the Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) will have options and costs for what to do with a waste incinerator at its Little Miami Treatment plant.  

The agency is working with federal and state regulators on alternatives.  

Sarah Ramsey

The latest battle between Cincinnati and Hamilton County concerning the Metropolitan Sewer District is over billing.  

MSD owes the Greater Cincinnati Water Works more than $2 million for billing services and it has not made a payment since June.  

The Metropolitan Sewer District is asking for an extension to meet new federal standards on a human waste incinerator.

MSD leaders and Cincinnati's Mayor traveled to Washington D.C. this week to discuss the issue with the U.S. EPA and members of Ohio's legislative delegation.

Sarah Ramsey

Cincinnati and Hamilton County have about two years left to complete the first phase of a program to reduce combined sewer overflows in the region.  It is part of federal consent decree finalized in 2006.  

There are 23 projects that must be completed by the end of 2018.  Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) Director Gerald Checco updated a council committee on the work Tuesday.  

Sarah Ramsey / WVXU

Cincinnati and Hamilton County officials are facing a 2018 deadline to decide the future of the Metropolitan Sewer District.  

A 50-year agreement that began in 1968 between the city and the county will have to be extended, modified or ended.  

City of Cincinnati

Cincinnati's Metropolitan Sewer District director Tony Parrott is taking a new job in Kentucky. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, Tuesday, announced Parrott as the new executive director of Louisville’s Metropolitan Sewer District.

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

Hamilton County commissioners are downplaying Cincinnati city manager Harry Black's announcement that Greater Cincinnati Water Works will no longer share certain administrative functions with the Metropolitan Sewer District. 

Sarah Ramsey

Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley and Hamilton County Commissioner Greg Hartmann said they are committed to fixing the broken relationship between the city and county concerning the Metropolitan Sewer District.  Both spoke after an hour long meeting Monday at City Hall.  

Hartmann said for MSD to be successful, the county has to have a coordinated approach with the city.

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

It's official: Metropolitan Sewer District rates will go up 5.5 percent next year.

Sewer rates have been increasing every year to pay for the multi-billion dollar federally mandated system overhaul. Hamilton County Commissioners Wednesday approved MSD's 2015 budget despite fresh conflict with the city over the Lick Run project.

The county's utility oversight director says 5.5 percent breaks down this way:

The 2014 quarterly bill is $110.71 for a typical single family residential customer (or $442.84 per year)

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

A multi-million dollar sewer project is unexpectedly on hold and that has a lot of Hamilton County and Metropolitan Sewer District officials scratching their heads.

Cincinnati City Manager Harry Black did something no one was expecting on Dec. 5. He sent a letter to companies who'd bid to do work on the Lick Run Valley Conveyance System project, terminating negotiations. That came as a major surprise to Ulliman Schutte Construction, which had already been awarded the job and signed contracts with the Metropolitan Sewer District. 

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

After the first of two public hearings on the Metropolitan Sewer District's 2015 budget, one thing is clear: there's still a lot of animosity between the utility and Hamilton County Commissioners.

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

Hamilton County sewer rates could go up 5.5 percent next year. That's the recommendation from county administrators.

Rates have been increasing for several years and are expected to keep doing so to pay for the multi-billion dollar, federally mandated sewer system upgrade. Last year, commissioners approved a six percent increase.

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.

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

Water is a big topic these days. There's a scarcity of it out West. Algae blooms shut down Toledo's drinking water system earlier this month, and Cincinnati remains on the leading edge of water technology. But those are all obvious. We see or hear about them frequently.  WVXU went looking behind-the-scenes at a hidden aspect of our water delivery system - something thousands of Cincinnatians pass each day but never truly see.

Sarah Ramsey

The Hamilton County Commissioners are reemphasizing a ruling from a federal magistrate in June that the county gets to make the rules for the Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD), and the city of Cincinnati as the operator must follow them.  

The commissioners unanimously passed a resolution Wednesday outlining county policies and directives for MSD that have been given in the past and adding some new ones.

Hamilton County Commission President Chris Monzel:

The City of Cincinnati is objecting to allegations levied by Hamilton County regarding the management of the Metropolitan Sewer District.

In a letter from interim city manager Scott Stiles to county administrator Christian Sigman, the city says it is "extremely disappointed" by the county's "adversarial approach."

Hamilton County Commissioners say cost overruns on Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) projects are too high and are indicating leadership is the problem.

In other words: MSD director Tony Parrott needs to go.

In a letter to interim Cincinnati city manager Scott Stiles, Hamilton County Administrator Christian Sigman says "major cost overruns within several federal Consent Decree projects is merely a symptom of larger management issues within MSD."

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

Hamilton County Commissioners are officially asking a federal judge to intervene in their  Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) dispute with Cincinnati.

The board voted unanimously Wednesday to ask for a ruling on which body gets to set policies for the district.

The sewer district is owned by the county but operated by the city.

The sides have been at odds over hiring and procurement policies instituted by the city. County Commissioners argue the policies are unfair and in some cases illegal. City attorneys and a majority of council members disagree.

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

Hamilton County Commissioners are retaining Dinsmore & Shohl to review their plans to take the city of Cincinnati to court over a sewer district dispute.

The law firm is being asked to prepare the county's case and offer an outside opinion on which government entity it thinks is right. At issue is whether the county or the city gets to set policy for the Metropolitan Sewer District. The county owns the utility but it is operated by the city.

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

Hamilton County Commissioners are retaining outside legal counsel in their fight with the City of Cincinnati over the Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD).

The city and county disagree over who gets to set policy for MSD - the county which owns it, or the city which operates it.

Commissioners voted 2-1 with lone Democrat Todd Portune dissenting.

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

The debate over who sets policy for the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati (MSD) is headed to a federal judge.

"We're beyond the negotiation phase," says Hamilton County Commissioner Greg Hartmann.

Hamilton County Commissioners and the City of Cincinnati are at odds over several city-instituted hiring procedures. The county says the hiring rules are illegal under Ohio Revised Code but the city argues it has home rule which trumps the O.R.C.

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

Several dozen people rallied outside the Hamilton County Administration building Thursday calling on County Commissioners to open bidding on several Metropolitan Sewer District projects.

Build 513 supports the City of Cincinnati's Responsible Bidder Ordinance, which among other things requires contractors have a 5-year record of graduating apprentices.

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