Hamilton County Commissioners are growing increasingly frustrated with Cincinnati leaders over which entity gets to set hiring policies for the Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD).
Commissioner Greg Hartmann is proposing the two sides come up with inclusion goals, incentive programs, and a way to support apprenticeship programs.
"I'm prepared to go to court if that's what it takes," says Hartmann. The local hiring policy passed by City Council is illegal and the responsible bidder program is flat out discrimination against non-union shops."
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.
Cincinnati and Hamilton County have been locked in a battle for more than six months about the bidding rules for Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) construction projects.
The county created and owns the sewer district, so it argues state and federal procurement guidelines must be used. But Cincinnati says since it operates MSD, and the city's bidding procedures must be followed.
Two Cincinnati Council Members are calling for the city's responsible bidder ordinance to be repealed because they say it is holding up needed Metropolitan Sewer District projects.
Council Members Charlie Winburn and Christopher Smitherman discussed the issue Monday during a Job Growth Committee meeting.
“The only solution this Council has is to repeal the responsible bidder ordinance,” Smitherman said. “Then try to normalize our relationships with our county partners by talking with them offline in a tone that is understandable”