Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Hamilton Co. considers spending more stimulus money to move CPD gun range away from Lincoln Heights

three women talk into microphones on a long dais with an american flag and the state of ohio flag behind them
Becca Costello
Hamilton County Board of Commissioners, from left: Stephanie Summerow Dumas, President Alicia Reece, and Vice President Denise Driehaus.

The effort to move Cincinnati's police gun range away from Evendale and Lincoln Heights is still several million dollars short. Hamilton County commissioners are considering adding another $2 million-$4 million to the project.

That would be in addition to the $15 million already allocated, or nearly half the total cost. Commissioner Stephanie Summerow Dumas says she does want to close the gap, but, "I don't know if we should be the one to close the gap. If we have to, we will. But I think other partners need to know that we still need you for that purpose."

A new gun range is part of a design for a Regional Safety Complex that will also host Hamilton County deputies and many other law enforcement agencies.

The new facility in northwest Colerain Township on East Miami River Road, west of Blue Rock Road, could be built out in 18-24 months. The total cost is estimated at $31.6 million.

$10 millionCounty general fund
$5 million (+$2 to $4 million)County ARPA
$4 millionFederal (2023 EDI Community Project
$3 millionState of Ohio
$4.25 millionCincinnati
Total: $28.2 to $30.2 millionTotal project cost: $31.6 million

County Administrator Jeff Aluotto says the gap isn't preventing the project from moving forward.

"We're in the final stages of an environmental review," he told commissioners Tuesday. "That should be completed probably within the next month. And we're about 30 days out from putting out bids once that happens."

Aluotto says his staff is working with city, state and federal officials to try to identify a final funding source.

RELATED: 'The gun range needs to go': Residents speak out about CPD gun range

The additional county contribution would come through reallocating federal stimulus, mostly leftover from projects that came in under budget.

Assistant County Administrator Holly Christman presented staff recommendations for how to reallocate the $8.8 million available.

See the full presentation below (story continues after):

Here's where the money comes from:

  • $3.3 million: balances in closed programs (under budget)
  • $1 million: eliminate a planned workforce marketing program
  • $4.5 million: reduce broadband infrastructure budget

Christmann says the $1 million workforce marketing program was intended to overcome the perception that you need a four-year degree to have a strong career.
"To really make a dent in this type of activity, it would take a multi-year long term marketing and awareness campaign. And we don't think that meets really our intent of the ARPA dollars," she said.

The recommended reduction in budget for broadband infrastructure is based on a report from an independent consultant. The program would still have $3.5 million allocated.

"[The consultant] did not recommend using the funds to lay down infrastructure and fiber and cabling; they said the private sector is taking care of that," Christmann said. "However, they did recommend inside wiring in public housing facilities where there currently is none."

Christmann says they're talking with the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority about that possibility, which could cover about 1,600 units.

RELATED: Many Ohioans still lack broadband access. That could hurt voter engagement

Other than the gun range relocation, county administrators are recommending three ways to spend the money:

  • $2.1 million for court technology improvements
  • $2 million for housing stability
  • $321,000 for Emergency Management

Christmann says the court system wants technology upgrades to make trials more efficient.
"These courtrooms will be remote capable," she said. "Benefits of this include more date certainty to trials and hearings, as continuances for out of town parties' availability will be reduced, given the ability to do hold hearings remotely."

Upgrades would also help provide better accommodations for people with hearing, visual, or language barriers.

The housing stability funding would be split evenly, with $1 million earmarked for a future partnership with the city on eviction prevention, and the other $1 million set aside for the time when state and federal rent assistance ends. Whenever that happens, Christmann says this savings would be used to help households still in the pipeline when applications close.

Lastly, the emergency management fund is part of a new eligible use for ARPA.

"$321,000 would be supplies for 500 people, and 625 pets, as well as transportation to quickly deploy those supplies in the event of one of our potential disasters, which would be flooding, tornadoes and high winds," Christmann said.

Commissioners will vote on the proposed spending in the next couple of months. Christmann says there will likely be future reallocations as well.

Local Government Reporter with a particular focus on Cincinnati; experienced journalist in public radio and television throughout the Midwest. Enthusiastic about: civic engagement, public libraries, and urban planning.