Becca Costello

Local Government Reporter

Ways to Connect

Citicable / City of Cincinnati

Cincinnati's director of community and economic development says some interaction between council members and her department can be inappropriate. Markiea Carter briefed members of the new Economic Development Reform Panel at its second meeting Friday.

Vote, Board of Elections, Hamilton County
Ambriehl Crutchfield / WVXU

A charter amendment likely to be on the May ballot would require Cincinnati to spend at least $50 million a year on affordable housing. Advocates say it's long past time to act, while critics say the impact on the budget would be devastating.

uc coronavirus testing
Courtesy of Jason Whitman

Cincinnati officials have designated Monday, March 1, as "COVID-19 Memorial Day." Council passed a resolution Wednesday to honor local residents impacted by the pandemic, including at least 220 deaths in the city.

hamilton county vaccine map
Ohio Department of Health

The Hamilton County Health Department got a lot more vaccine doses than usual this week. Health Commissioner Greg Kesterman says the majority of doses in the county are still going to private health providers, but the increase is much needed.

parks department repairs
Courtesy / Cincinnati Parks Department

Cincinnati officials say the city's Parks and Recreation Departments are struggling under tight budgets and mounting repair bills. City administrators are in the early stages of preparing a budget for next fiscal year, which begins July 1. Department heads briefed council members at a meeting of the Budget and Finance Committee Monday.

john cranley state of the city 2021
Courtesy City of Cincinnati

Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley says he's proud of the way the city responded to the COVID-19 pandemic last year. Cranley's State of the City address is being released as online videos this week.

fire truck
Bill Rinehart / WVXU

Updated: Wednesday, 3 p.m.

Cincinnati firefighters will get a 5% raise this year under a contract negotiated between the city and union.

city council school graduation
Courtesy / Action Tank

The inaugural class of City Council School graduated this weekend. The program from Action Tank, a local think tank, met virtually two to three times monthly since October.

cincinnati city hall
Nick Swartsell / WVXU

A Cincinnati council member has moved away from a proposal to mandate affordable housing in most new development projects. 

mercantile library
Courtesy / Mercantile Library, City of Cincinnati

The century-old Mercantile Library building on Walnut Street has been granted local historic landmark status after a vote from Cincinnati City Council Thursday.

for rent sign
Reed Saxon / AP

Cincinnati City Council members started investigating affordable housing Wednesday in the first meeting of a new subcommittee. Local experts say the city needs at least 28,000 additional affordable units.

covid-19 racial disparities
Ohio Department of Health / Graphic: Flourish

Less than 5% of Black Hamilton County residents are vaccinated for COVID-19, compared to about 12.5% of white residents. Health Commissioner Greg Kesterman says he's working with partner organizations to improve messaging.

Eliot Isaac
Citicable / City of Cincinnati

An officer shortage at the Cincinnati Police Department is expected to get worse over the next couple of years. Chief Eliot Isaac told the Budget and Finance Committee Tuesday that there are currently 990 sworn officers.

"We expect to fall to about 938 by the time the class graduates in March of '22," Isaac said. "If this class is 50, that will still put us about 71 officers below our authorized complement."

infant sleep
Sven Brandsma / Unsplash

Twenty-one infants in Hamilton County died in sleep-related incidents in 2020, the highest number in a decade. Job and Family Services plans to launch a safe sleep campaign in March.

Jens Neumann / Pixabay

Hamilton County residents will pay lower taxes when selling a home thanks to a vote from the Board of Commissioners Thursday.

logan towers housing project
Planning and Development / Hamilton County

Hamilton County officials have approved a little over a million dollars in grants for affordable housing developments this year. The funds are going to four groups to build a total 146 affordable units.

cincinnati city hall
Nick Swartsell / WVXU

Updated: Wednesday, 5 p.m.

Cincinnati Council wants voters to change the city charter to address what happens if a council member is indicted on a felony. Council approved two charter amendments for the May ballot on Wednesday.

cincinnati city hall
Nick Swartsell / WVXU

The ongoing effort to restore trust in Cincinnati government includes a new development scorecard. Council Member Greg Landsman presented his plan to the Budget and Finance Committee Monday.

Citicable / City of Cincinnati

The Cincinnati Fire Department hopes to train 40 new recruits by the end of the year, but Chief Roy Winston says the staff shortage will still strain the budget.

Ambriehl Crutchfield / WVXU

Cincinnati Council is exploring solutions for the 28,000-unit gap in affordable housing, and council members say the issue is a top priority. Advocates renewed calls to address the crisis this week as council approved a development in Over-the-Rhine without any affordable units.

gay pride flag

Cincinnati’s hate crime ordinance will be updated to include "gender identity" and "gender expression" as protected categories.

Cory Sharber / WVXU

Updated: Wednesday, 6 p.m.

Cincinnati City Council voted 5-4 Wednesday to advance a controversial development at Liberty and Elm in Over-the-Rhine.

More text messages from the so-called "Gang of Five" Cincinnati City Council members could be released publicly. A council committee Tuesday passed a motion from Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman asking the city solicitor to release any additional messages related to city business.

cincinnati city hall
Nick Swartsell / WVXU

Updated: Wednesday, 5:30 p.m.

The Cincinnati City Council voted 8-1 Wednesday to approve the members of a new development review panel. Council Member Chris Seelbach was the lone council member to vote no on Mayor John Cranley's appointees.

greg landsman
Screen grab / Citicable

Updated: Thursday, 3 p.m.

Cincinnati City Council members hope to secure hazard pay for the city’s frontline workers. Council approved Council Member Greg Landsman's motion Wednesday.


Updated: Jan. 28, 3 p.m.

Hamilton County commissioners Thursday gave final approval to taking over 911 dispatching for the city of Norwood. County Administrator Jeff Aluotto says they’ve been working to de-fragment the county's emergency communication system.

city hall
Bill Rinehart / WVXU

Updated: 3:45 p.m.

Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley Wednesday announced the nine people he’s appointing to an Economic Development reform panel. City Council passed an ordinance last month creating the panel in response to the arrests of three council members on federal corruption charges.

coronavirus vaccine
Hans Pennink / AP

Hamilton County officials say they hope President Joe Biden's federal plan will speed up COVID-19 vaccine distribution. Commissioner Denise Driehaus says the county is getting about 8,000 doses of vaccine a week, but the vast majority go to local hospital systems.

Bill Rinehart / WVXU

Cincinnati's fire and police departments are millions of dollars over budget, largely because of pandemic challenges. The city manager's office presented a budget monitoring report to a City Council committee Monday.

todd portune center for county government building
Courtesy of Hamilton County Comission

Current and former Hamilton County commissioners Monday dedicated the county administration building in honor of Todd Portune on the one-year anniversary of his death.