Council Committee Discusses MSD State Audit

Mar 7, 2017

Almost everyone agrees the 1968 Metropolitan Sewer District agreement between Cincinnati and Hamilton County is broken.

That was confirmed by a state performance audit released last week.

A city council committee discussed the audit Tuesday.

Council Member Wendell Young said the fractured city/county relationship puts MSD Director Gerald Checco in the middle.

"It cannot continue to operate this way and we cannot continue to have people second guessing every decision you make," Young said to Checco. "Then blame you for delays and blame you for cost overruns. That just does not make sense to me."

The audit also said MSD could save nearly $2 million a year by streamlining operations including the IT and dispatch departments.  

The 1968 agreement between the city and county for the sewer system expires in a little more than a year.  The city operates the system and the county commissioners are responsible for setting and approving the MSD budget.

Council Member Kevin Flynn said he is looking forward to productive discussions with the county as the agreement nears expiration "on how we can resolve the issues so that the rate payers are protected, so that we run the most efficient and effective sewer system that we can.

"And at the same time, protect the city against inordinate costs and protect the county against inordinate costs if they had to buy the city's infrastructure," Flynn said. 

If the two sides cannot reach a negotiated settlement, a federal judge will likely decide the fate of the sewer system.  

The city and county are both named in a federal consent decree to eliminate the combined sewer system, which collects waste and storm water.  That has caused untreated sewage to be released into local waterways.  

A federal court is overseeing the process as the MSD works to fix the problem.