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'Bold Vision' Or 'Tall Order' For Hamilton County?

Bill Rinehart
Commissioners voted 2-1 to adopt a policy agenda for 2018.

Hamilton County Commissioners are setting a course for 2018 that includes encouraging inclusiveness and environmental sustainability, and protecting the most vulnerable citizens. Those are some of the 11 goals of the new policy agenda approved Wednesday morning.

Other areas include transportation, economic development, and the heroin crisis. Board President Todd Portune says it's a revolutionary approach to running the county. "For too long I think that we have looked at the future in a way that we've limited our ability to do great things and bold things."

Chris Monzel voted against the policy agenda, saying the county's focus should be on core functions. "Something we say where I work about a say-do ratio: You say you're going to do something then you go do it. I think we have a tall order here within this policy agenda of what we're saying we going to do and then trying to go do it. Especially in light of the financial situation that we're seeing here in Hamilton County."

The county's budget office is concerned about a projected $5.8 million shortfall in budgeted year-end reserves.

Commissioner Denise Driehaus admits the policy agenda is aspirational, but says it answers what county residents have been calling for. Driehaus says the goals offer direction.

"What it does is provide for basic services in Hamilton County and then offers some aspirational policy objectives that we hope to attain in reflection of what we've been hearing from the citizens about economic development, about housing opportunities, about inclusion."

Driehaus says the budget will determine how many of the goals are reachable. Commissioners meet Thursday afternoon to discuss a projected end-of-year budget gap. That meeting is at 2 p.m. at Memorial Hall.