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Budget, Affordable Housing And Transit On Ham. Co. Commission Policy Agenda

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Michael Keating
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The Hamilton County commissioners are expected to give final approval Thursday to a policy agenda for the county for 2021 and 2022.

The commissioners have been sharing drafts and making changes to the document for a couple weeks.

"The global pandemic of COVID-19 fundamentally altered the way citizens in Hamilton County live their lives, conduct business, and use government services," the document reads. "The unexpected fiscal and service-delivery challenges of 2020 forced Hamilton County to adapt. This policy agenda will establish the county commission's strategy to build back a Hamilton County that is healthier, more prosperous, and more equitable than before."

The bullet point items listed in the proposed policy agenda include:

  • Continuing budget stabilization and maintaining economic development investment so that Hamilton County is well-positioned for economic recovery
  • Building a better justice system through diversion and reentry
  • Integrating equity and inclusion into all county operations
  • Enhancing transportation infrastructure and providing a smooth transition at SORTA
  • Continuing partnerships to revitalize neighborhoods
  • Investing in a thriving workforce to drive economic recovery
  • Helping all families thrive and protecting vulnerable populations
  • Improving MSD governance
  • Developing a strategic approach for affordable housing
  • Improving the Hamilton County Fair
  • Citizen-led initiatives of the Board of County Commissioners
         1. The Addiction Response Coalition
         2. Oral Health Coalition
         3. Infant Mortality
         4. The Commission on Women and Girls
         5. The Boys to Men Initiative

The county administration uses the policy agenda when making budget decisions. That spending plan is being assembled and must be approved by the county commissioners before the end of the year.
The county's budget is much better currently than officials thought it might be earlier in the year because of the COVID-19 shutdown of parts of the economy. 

"The strength of the county's financial position, combined with the collective efforts of the board, administration and independently elected officials working together has enabled Hamilton County to weather the immediate disruption brought on by COVID-19," the document says. "The board's decision to continue the 0.25% sales tax and redirect it to the general fund, and the funding rendered by the federal government through the CARES Act have positioned the county financially in such a way to avoid significant cuts to essential government services during the COVID-19 crisis."

But officials note the total impact and the duration of the pandemic remain unknown and will likely lower county revenue sources for months, if not years, to come.