Shake-Up In Hamilton County Tax Levy Review Committee
The group that recommends whether tax levies make it to the ballot in Hamilton County has six new members. The County Commissioners approved the changes to the Tax Levy Review Committee on a 2-1 vote.
The vote was along party lines, with Democratic commissioners Todd Portune and Denise Driehaus voting in favor of the changes and Republican commissioner Chris Monzel opposed.
Portune, the board president, says while the old make-up was seven men, two women and one African-American, the new committee looks more like Hamilton County, with five men and four women, including three African-Americans and one Asian-American.
"Diversity of thought is critical as well," Portune says. "And this board represents that. We have conservative voices. We have progressive voices. There are people who are Democrats; there are people who are Republicans on this board."
Three committee members remain from the former board.
Monzel opposed the shake-up - not, he says, because of the individuals who were named, but because of the process.
"We've had a process in place that we've been following in regards to our board appointments," Monzel says. "This process has been done for the past few years. You post them to the county website. You allow the public to provide input and transparency. These weren't even posted on our county website."
Portune responded by saying that he respects Monzel's position, but disagrees.
"Elections have consequence," Portune says. "This election has a consequence and the majority feels very strongly about this committee in particular."
Portune said he was not disparaging the previous board.
"It's up to us to make sure that the board looks like Hamilton County, and thinks like Hamilton County, and represents the diversity that is Hamilton County," Portune says.
Three levies: indigent care, mental health, and senior services, are set to expire at the end of the year. The committee is expected to meet Monday to begin reviewing the levies.
The new members are: Janaya Trotter-Bratton, Robert Furnier, Jeanette Hargreaves, Edward Herzig, Rev. Bobby Hilton and Jennifer O’Donnell. Gwen McFarlin, John Silverman, Mark Quarry are returning members.