Metropolitan Sewer District

Sarah Ramsey

City and county officials now have about five weeks to try to work out a compromise on several Metropolitan Sewer District policies (MSD).

Council voted unanimously Wednesday to suspend its local hiring policy until August 1. Until then the sides will try to reach an agreement on it and a portion of a responsible bidder policy that requires apprenticeships.

Sarah Ramsey

Just days after announcing a compromise, county and city leaders could be heading back to square one.

Hamilton County Commissioner Chris Monzel had planned to lead a vote Wednesday to reopen the bidding process for Metropolitan Sewer District projects. The board instituted a moratorium several weeks ago when Cincinnati City Council refused to scrap its local hiring and responsible bidder requirements.

Sarah Ramsey

They've had their differences, but it looks like the City of Cincinnati and Hamilton County are making progress on a plan to provide an adequate local workforce for the $3 billion project to modernize the Metropolitan Sewer District.

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

Hamilton County Commissioners are ordering the Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) to suspend work until the City of Cincinnati changes a new hiring policy.

The County owns MSD but it's operated by the city.

On Wednesday, commissioners passed a resolution stopping work on all projects affected by the city's policy. The county argues the policy, which requires an apprenticeship program, unfairly excludes many non-union companies from bidding for construction jobs.

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

Hamilton County Commissioners still aren't happy with the City of Cincinnati's responsible bidder program for Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) construction projects.

The board is drafting replacement language and, to show he means business, commissioner Chris Monzel is considering a restraining order forcing the city not to award any MSD contracts until the issue is resolved.

The key issue is a clause requiring companies bidding for sewer work to have certified apprenticeship programs with graduates.

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

Hamilton County Commissioners want Cincinnati to change some language in the city's hiring policies for companies bidding on Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) construction projects.

The city wants all construction firms to have apprenticeship programs.

Groups like the Greater Cincinnati Building Construction Trades Council like the plan. However, some companies say it's not feasible for several reasons, including that apprentice programs for some specialized trades simply don't exist.

Sarah Ramsey

Cincinnati Council is making changes to a responsible bidder ordinance it enacted nearly a year ago.  

It's designed to make sure job training is a part of major contracts awarded by the Metropolitan Sewer District.  

Council Member Chris Seelbach said the purpose hasn't changed.

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

The EPA says every year 14 billion gallons of wastewater is dumped into the Mill Creek. This is because  Cincinnati's sewer system is too old to handle the stormwater runoff and it mixes with sewage in one series of pipes.

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.

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

The Hamilton County Commissioner could now vote Wednesday on a resolution asking the Metropolitan Sewer District to end its responsible bidder policy on contracts.  

The commission last week said it's bad for business.  

But some Cincinnati Council Members who approved the policy are defending it.  

Chris Seelbach said it's designed to make sure job training is a part of the multi-billion dollar plan to rebuild the sewer system.  

He said he's working with Commission President Chris Monzel on a solution.

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