Hamilton Co. Commissioners suspend sewer project funding - WFXG FOX54 Augusta - Your News One Hour Earlier

Hamilton Co. suspends sewer project funding

Posted: Updated: May 24, 2013 07:24 PM
CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -

Hamilton County Commissioners have agreed to stop funding Metropolitan Sewer District projects until the City of Cincinnati gets rid of one ordinance they say favors companies in the city and revises another that impacts which companies are eligible to bid on projects based on apprenticeships.

The agreement came in the form of a resolution signed by all three commissioners.

"The goal is to send a signal that we have to change the ordinances," Commissioner Chris Monzel told FOX19.

"Unfortunately what they're doing is illegal which is a huge barrier for us and two it's driving up costs which is going to hurt small businesses in Hamilton County," argued Monzel.

Monzel argues the city's Local Business Preference ordinance goes against the Ohio Revised Code saying state law does not allow county sewer districts to have geographic preferences on what firms they can hire.

While the county cannot force Cincinnati to change its ordinances, it can halt the MSD work.

"We hold the checkbook, the purse strings so what we can do is prevent any projects going forward which is not a good thing for fixing the sewer system, but if we're protecting the rate payers and the citizens of Hamilton County's wallets from having to pay more money out I think it's the right thing to do," Monzel argued.

With major federal design approvals for projects like Lick Run expected any day now, MSD officials say the county's funding approval becomes more critical; telling FOX19 in a statement:

"MSD's role is to implement policy as approved by the respective political bodies and we stand ready to initiate projects for construction so that we can put people to work and meet our obligations under the Consent Decree."

According to MSD officials there are significant penalties if projects are delayed and milestones are not met to the tune of daily $1,500 fines.

"We're not going to miss the milestones," Monzel maintained.

City Councilman Chris Seelbach, a champion of the apprenticeship amendment to the city's responsible bidder ordinance tells FOX19 he met with commissioners and plans to sit down with them again. Seelbach says he anticipates a resolution that everyone can get on board with to be approved in the coming weeks. 

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