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Hamilton County Commissioners Lay Out 2017 Spending Priorities

Bill Rinehart
Commissioners will hold three public hearings before they vote on a budget for the rest of 2017.

Hamilton County Commissioners have submitted their proposals as the county administrator prepares to introduce a spending plan for the rest of 2017. The board adopted a continuing budget in January to give new Commissioner Denise Driehaus input with her priorities.

"They include the Office of Inclusion, money to address what's working in Hamilton County by way of the heroin epidemic, particularly the recovery pod and some other things that I've detailed here," Driehaus said. "Talking about economic development, giving a more robust funding stream to the Port Authority and CincyTech." 

Driehaus also wants to improve county employee compensation. She and Board President Todd Portune have proposed adjusting pay so the minimum wage is $15 an hour.

Portune submitted his priorities Wednesday morning. They cover five areas.

"I've introduced issues relating to the problems at MSD, our need to maintain budget balance over the course of the year, transportation questions and concerns, and the need for us to fund a variety of transportation options," he said.

Among Portune's specific priorities are the creation of a regional transportation commission and getting federal legislation passed that would allow the county to renegotiate the terms of the Metropolitan Sewer District consent decree.

Other areas include public health and safety, along with growing Hamilton County's economy and population.

Portune's priorities include hiring an outside consultant to help develop a five-year economic plan.

"That will allow us to be able to identify to a reasonable degree of certainty what the probable outcome will be in terms of economic growth and revenues generated if we do certain initiatives," Portune said. 

He says the practice is already done at the state and federal levels.

Commissioner Chris Monzel is sticking with the budget plan offered and passed in December. County Administrator Jeff Aluotto will introduce a budget on Friday. Commissioners want to approve a plan by March 31.