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Hamilton County reaffirms directions/policies for MSD

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 Board and the county have in the past given Metropolitan Sewer District instructions and directions on many important policy matters. It has come to the attention of the Board that these instructions and directions are not being followed by the Metropolitan Sewer District. Further we are at a stage where we have hundreds of millions of dollars potentially at risk if our policy direction is not followed. This resolution affirms past directions to MSD in light of their role as agent for the board, as was thoroughly vetted within the recent court decision by the federal court.

A federal magistrate said in a 29-page ruling in June the county gets to make the rules for MSD.

The latest legal battle was the result of a city passed responsible bidder ordinance that required MSD contractors to have apprenticeship programs and pay into a pre-apprentice program.  

Council members who supported said it was about providing job training.  County commissioners objected, saying it was illegal and would have put an unfair burden on contractors for sewer projects.  

The federal magistrate threw out the responsible bidder ordinance as part of his opinion.

Hamilton County Administrator Christian Sigman said the latest resolution will provide a nice foundation.

“For the administration of the county work with the new city manager, enlightening him on the importance of the relationship as it relates to the federal ruling and how we interact with the regulators on this important consent decree,” Sigman said.

The Metropolitan Sewer District is in the middle of nearly $3 billion worth of upgrades in order to comply with a federal consent decree to meet federal clean water standards.