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Water Rate Fight Goes Before Judge

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Hamilton County has gone to court over a plan to raise water rates in unincorporated communities. Commissioners asked for a temporary restraining order to block Cincinnati Water Works from raising rates until a task force can finish a study.

Board President Todd Portune says he didn't want it to come to this. "There may be authority as a matter of law for the city to set rates," he says. "They cannot set rates in an arbitrary and capricious manner. In our agreement with the city, a task force is required to vet the issue of what the rates should be."

Portune says several Cincinnati council members have told him they want to work with the county. "I want to acknowledge their good faith. I want to acknowledge their good efforts. I want to say to them and the entire council and the mayor that we remain willing and ready and able to resolve this issue amicably."

Portune says the task force should be allowed to finish its work and make a recommendation on what the rates should be.

Commissioner Denise Driehaus says in a written statement, "We must let the task force complete its work and offer recommendations in order to establish fair rates for township ratepayers."

Under the current contract, unincorporated parts of Hamilton County pay 1.25 times the base rate for water. Cincinnati Water Works has proposed raising that amount to 1.43.

Cincinnati and the county are already fighting in court over the operations of the Metropolitan Sewer District.