Responsible bidder

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:

A federal magistrate ruled this morning that Cincinnati's responsible bidder ordinance is invalid and that Hamilton County makes the rules for the Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD).

The county owns the sewer system, but the city operates it.

The city and the county have been fighting for more than two years over the responsible bidder ordinance, which would force MSD contractors to have apprentice programs and pay into a pre-apprenticeship fund. Unions favor the ordinance, because many of them have apprentice programs.

Hamilton County will go to federal court to try to settle a dispute with the city of Cincinnati over hiring practices for a massive Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) project.

Commission president Chris Monzel said the county will file its suit next week in U.S. District Court here.

"We're going to ask the court to weigh in on the relationship between the city and the county, particuarly on procurement issues,'' Monzel said.

The county owns MSD, but the city of Cincinnati operates it.

At issue is whether the county or the city gets to set policy for MSD.

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

Hamilton County Commissioners say they're willing to work with the city but when it comes to making Metropolitan Sewer District decisions, they're in charge.

In a resolution passed Wednesday the board agreed to set inclusion goals similar to the aim of the city's Responsible Bidder ordinance. The county says that ordinance is unfair. It also dislikes the city's Local Preference policy and says it's illegal.

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

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."

Sarah Ramsey

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. 

Sarah Ramsey

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”

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.

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.

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