Hamilton County Administration Proposes Utility Service Fee

Oct 5, 2015

Hamilton County Commissioners have until mid-November to approve a spending plan for 2016.
Credit Bill Rinehart / WVXU

Update 10/08/15:   Here are all three budget hearing dates and locations.

Oct. 21 at 6pm

Colerain Township Administration Building

4200 Springdale Road

Colerain Township, Ohio 45251

Oct. 26 at 6:30pm

Delhi Township Administration Building

934 Neeb Road

Delhi Township, Ohio 45233

Oct. 28 at 6pm

Springfield Township Senior & Community Arts Center

9150 Winton Road

Room “C” on the lower level

9150 Winton Road

Springfield Township, Ohio 45231

*Arts Center is to the left of the Administrative/Fire Department complex

Original Post: The proposed 2016 general fund budget for Hamilton County is 3.9 percent more than this year's spending plan, but it doesn't pay for every priority commissioners have identified.  County Administrator Christian Sigman says with some additional spending, the county would comply with the budget policy the commission approved in March.

“The policy document has four key areas," says Sigman. "Serving those in need, economic development, strategic long-term issues, and strong fiscal stewardship.”

Sigman says his proposal translates those policies into anti-heroin measures, addressing family homelessness, starting a transportation infrastructure fund, raises for some employees, and business retention efforts.

The programs would add an additional $4.6 million in spending to the budget. Sigman is proposing a new revenue source to cover it: a utility service fee of no more than a half of a percent. 

Sigman says the utility service fee is allowed by the Ohio Revised Code and is used by other urban counties across the country.

Sigman says the fee would cost each Hamilton County resident about $6 a year.  Without the fee, he says commissioners could cut services, or dip into reserves, and he recommends against both. 

The recommended general fund budget for 2016 is $209.2 million, about $7.9 million more than the 2015 spending plan. 

Overall, Sigman says some revenues have been rising, but commissioners should not get too excited.  Revenue for 2016 is estimated to be $16.4 million more than 2015.  Of that, sales tax, which is the single largest general fund revenue, is about 6.7 percent higher than 2014 receipts.

“Sales tax performance has been very good the past three years,” he says.  “We don’t know if we’re at the top of the apex of the economic cycle, or if we’re going to start dropping off, so we’ll need to watch (the) sales tax.”

Commissioners plan to have the budget approved by November 18.

There are three public comment sessions planned for later this month, in Delhi, Evendale, and Anderson Township.

  • Wednesday, Oct. 21, 6 p.m. (Location to be announced)
  • Monday, Oct. 26, 6:30 p.m. - Delhi Township Administration Building, 934 Neeb Road, 45233
  • Wednesday, Oct. 28, 6 p.m. (Location to be announced)