Commissioners Poised To Approve Utility Service Fee

Nov 30, 2015

Hamilton County Commissioners hope to approve a general fund budget by December 9.
Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU

Hamilton County Commissioners appear likely to approve a utility service fee to help pay for the 911 emergency dispatch center. 

Right now, the communications center is paid for by a dispatch fee.  Communities are charged for every call to 911 from their jurisdiction, and some of those communities have been encouraging residents to call emergency services directly to avoid the fee.

Commission President Greg Hartmann says the fee could bolster the 911 call center. “This move is a big deal for townships and provides significant relief for townships that have been under great budgetary pressures for the last several years.”

The fee was first proposed by County Administrator Christian Sigman as a way to raise money for several initiatives, including combating heroin addiction, and for transportation infrastructure.

But Hartmann wants it for only one. “While the Ohio Revised Code allows the county to implement this fee up to 1 percent of the utility cost, I only support this fee at a percentage to support the 911 system and the communication center customers through the detail rate, and no other policy initiatives.”

Sigman’s proposal would have raised $6.4 million, and added an average of $6 per year to a customer’s utility bill.

How much this fee would add to which utility bill is still up in the air.  Sigman says the final version will “probably be less than 1 percent”.

Commissioner Chris Monzel asked if a sunset clause could be inserted in the measure. Commissioner Todd Portune is withholding comment until he has a chance to review the final proposal.

If approved, it would be part of the general fund budget which commissioners hope to pass by December 9.