Hello, Hamilton County

  E-News for Hamilton County Citizens and Employees

April 10, 2001

  Quote of the Week:  “A true friend is someone who is there for you when they would rather be someplace else."  - Len Wein

County Commissioners Discuss Financial Outlook

At their April 9th meeting, the Board of County Commissioners discussed with staff the current financial outlook for county government. Recent concerns have been sparked by anticipated reductions in State and Federal funding to the Department of Jobs and Family Services (DJFS), less than expected sales tax receipts, and concerns about the State's new budget which is currently being developed.
County Commissioners expressed concern about issues highlighted in a recent staff report that projected revenue shortfalls in 2001 and 2002.  Commissioners requested that the report be shared throughout the County organization and that these concerns be discussed at the joint planning session scheduled for late spring or early summer.  As with previous years, this planning effort lays out broad goals and establishes the foundation for the next year's budget.  

Of particular concern is the possibility that in 2002 the county could be facing significant losses in the General Fund, $45 million in reductions to DJFS from known state budget cuts, and $50 million from two special levies (Health/Hospitalization and Children's Services Levies) that will be before the voter this November.  Current year revenue concerns center on a proposed freeze of local government funds by the State and a projected shortfall of $1.7 million in the portion of sales tax not dedicated to riverfront development and tax relief.  A similar gap exists in the dedicated portion of sales tax, but this is offset by the sales tax stabilization fund established by the Commissioners this past Fall.  

In response to these concerns, county administration is implementing hiring restrictions that require a review of all vacant positions in departments under the Board of County Commissioners and approval prior to any recruitment activity.  In addition, the County Administrator will be reviewing all large capital projects ($500,000 or more).  It was noted during Monday's meeting that County departments generally do a good job in managing expenditures with most spending between 3% to 5% below their budgets.


MSD Director Karney testifies before Congress
"The time has come to once again make water infrastructure funding a national priority" Pat Karney, Director of the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati, told the House Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment. Karney testified on behalf of the Association of Metropolitan Sewerage Agencies (AMSA) in one of the first in a series of Congressional hearings to address closing the $23 billion nation-wide funding gap between current local investments in water and wastewater infrastructure and what is needed over the next 20 years to replace aging and failing pipes and meet Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act mandates.
The environmental gains made by the water and wastewater community over the past thirty years are impressive, but they are in jeopardy. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the nation will lose a generation of water quality progress without significant new investment in water and wastewater infrastructure. "Recently, more than a million consumers in California were plunged into darkness as the nation's energy crisis deepened. Imagine what would happen if the nation's water and wastewater systems began to fail," Karney stated. "As the Director of Hamilton County's sewer district, could I ask our consumers to tolerate untreated or unsafe water? I think not, because the failure of wastewater systems could create a public health emergency, cause widespread environmental degradation, and lead to an erosion of our local economies."

The $23 billion gap is documented in two reports released by the Water Infrastructure Network (WIN), most recently in last month’s Water Infrastructure Now: Recommendations for Clean and Safe Water in the 21st Century (WINow), which has been endorsed by AMSA and over 30 nationally-recognized organizations. The WINow report makes specific recommendations on bridging the infrastructure funding gap through a renewed federal commitment to the nation’s municipalities. By authorizing an average of $11.5 billion per year in capitalization funds over the next five years the federal government will provide states with the necessary funds to offer grants and loans to local water and wastewater agencies for repairs and replacement of aging infrastructure.

"We commend Congress on addressing the issue of infrastructure needs," AMSA Executive Director Ken Kirk said. "Cincinnati is only one of thousands of cities, counties, and towns facing aging infrastructure. This problem may be ‘out of sight’ but it no longer can stay ‘out of mind’. The time to do something about this problem is now. We look forward to working with the Congress to identify workable solutions to preserving the environmental gains of the last decades," Kirk added.


National Public Safety Telecommunications Week recognizes unsung public safety heroes
At their April 4, 2001 meeting, the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution proclaiming the week of April 8, 2001 as National Public Safety Telecommunications Week.  Following the federal government’s lead the Board of County Commissioners is recognizing the valuable contributions that our emergency service telecommunicators play in preserving health and safety in Hamilton County. There are an estimated 300 dispatchers and call takers serving the five 9-1-1 centers in Hamilton County.

Serving as the critical link between the citizens of our county and the police, fire, and emergency medical services, these men and women are an intricate part of our public health and safety systems.  Processing hundreds of thousands of telephone calls a year; these public servants are trained to calmly perform a very difficult job with a high degree of speed and accuracy.  Hamilton County operates a multi-jurisdictional Public Safety Communications Center that serves 105 public safety and public service agencies throughout the county.  In 2000 alone, the Hamilton County Communications Center processed 885,088 calls, resulting in 413,653 dispatches.

“Public Safety Dispatchers and call-takers, both those that work for Hamilton County and those that serve jurisdictions throughout the County, truly are the unsung heroes of public safety,” said Hamilton County Board President John Dowlin.  “They are always there to help when citizens call, anytime day or night.”


Hamilton County Soil & Water Conservation District Receives Top National Award
As first reported in Hello, Hamilton County last October, the Hamilton County Soil & Water Conservation District has been named the top Soil and Water Conservation District in an eight state region. The regional Goodyear Conservation Award places the Hamilton County Soil & Water Conservation District among the top seven of over 3,000 districts nationwide and is the highest national award the district can receive. The other states included in the regional competition along with Ohio are Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Missouri.
Hamilton County Soil & Water Conservation Board and staff members at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

As a part of the national recognition, member of the the Soil & Water Conservation District Board and staff participated in a presentation before the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.  "It was a thrill to be recognized as one of the best in the nation and to shares our programs and perspective with members of the national media," said Tom Reininger, a Member of the Board of Supervisors who made the trip to Washington.  "This award is a real complement to Hamilton County."

The Goodyear Conservation Awards program makes awards based on a comprehensive rating of Soil & Water Conservation Districts throughout the United States. The ratings are based on how well the district operates in fulfilling its mission of stewardship of soil and water resources. The Hamilton County district has been credited with a unique ability to meet both the needs of agriculture and a rapidly changing urban environment.  Hamilton County is one of the first urban counties in the country to receive the Goodyear Conservation Award.


What's new at Environmental Services?
See what’s happening at the Hamilton County Department of Environmental Services. Visit our website at www.hcdoes.org to find out about upcoming events or to request one of our FREE brochures. The Department has recently updated several of its free brochures and has a large collection of free literature available to the public. We also have many fun and useful events coming up, so be sure to mark your calendars!

Literature Available:

bulletThe Household Hazardous Materials Handbook has recently been updated and is available free to the public. This 12-page handbook is a reference guide to locations that will accept and, in most cases, recycle many of the household hazardous materials you no longer need. You may also want to refer to the frequently asked questions about household hazardous materials section. If you still have questions or concerns after you have reviewed this booklet, please feel free to call the Household Hazardous Materials Hotline at 946-7700.
bulletThe Yardwaste At Home Handbook is helpful to people who can’t wait to get outside and work on their yard or garden. Recycling your yardwaste at home can save you time and money while improving your lawn and the environment at the same time. Learn about composting, vermicomposting, organic gardening, projects for children, and other resources available to you. This booklet will help you recycle your yardwaste at home, convert your yardwaste and kitchen waste into a usable product, and take care of your garden and lawn in an organic manner. It can also help you reduce, if not totally avoid, curbside collection fees and the need to take your yardwaste to a recycling station. To request a free copy, call the Yardwaste Hotline at 946-7755.
bulletFor tips on recycling throughout your home, check out Once Is Not Enough, a resident’s guide to reducing, reusing, and recycling. This easy to use, comprehensive guidebook will not only answer all your questions, but it will give you useful tips on a variety of solid waste management topics that are easy to apply in and around your home. Anything you want to know about managing waste in your home, yard or garage is addressed in this guidebook, including information on home renovations and outlets for your reusables and recyclables.
bulletAnd last, but not least, a publication for all the allergy sufferers out there. Spring can often send people into misery as they struggle to control their allergies. Our recently updated Living With Allergies Brochure gives tips on how to reduce the discomfort of allergy-related symptoms. This brochure answers some of the most frequently asked questions about airborne allergens: What airborne allergens affect you most? Where do they come from? What time of the year are these allergens most prevalent? For a free copy of this brochure call 946-7747 or for more information about daily pollen and mold counts call the Pollen and Mold Hotline at 946-7753.

Upcoming Events:

bulletFree Mixed Paper Recycling Events - May 5 and June 2.  Recycle your mixed paper for free at the following collection events.  For a list of locations call 946-7734 or visit www.hcdoes.org.
bulletEarth Day - April 21.  Visit Environmental Services' booth and enjoy all the other festivities including live music, food and other informative displays.  Join us at Sawyer Point from 1:00-6:00 p.m.
bulletClean Air-A-Thon - June 9.  This 5Krun/walk for clean air awareness will feature a kids fun run, award ceremony for the winners of the Do Your Share For Cleaner Air calendar contest and other fun activities.  The race starts at 9 a.m. at Sawyer Point.
bulletComputer Recycling Event - June 29 for Pre-registered businesses only, June 30 for residents only.  Dispose of your old computers and equipment for free and help the environment at the same time.  The June 29th event for businesses is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and the June 30 event for residents is from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.  The event is at the Hamilton County Fairgrounds.


Municipal Courts, Probation Team with UC on Proposed Abuse Study
Hamilton County Municipal Court, Adult Probation Division, is part of an application submitted to the National Institute of Drug Abuse by the University of Cincinnati entitled “Community Response to Substance-Abusing Batterers.”  The goal of the project is to develop an assessment-guided, treatment-matching program to address battering in our community that will reduce recidivism and deal with the multifaceted problems that batterers have, such as chemical dependency and cognitive impairment (e.g. impaired learning and memory).  The Adult Probation Division’s involvement will be the intensive supervision of selected population of chemically dependent domestic violence offenders and outreach to domestic violence victims to obtain information about the offense for the court and follow up monitoring of the victim’s well being after the defendant is sentenced.  Other participants in this study are Women Helping Women and the YWCA AMEND program.


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Hello, Hamilton County is published twice each month.  It is placed on both the County's internal and external Web pages.  It is design to enlighten and inform both citizens and employees of Hamilton County.  If you have questions or suggestions for future editions, contact Sharon Booker (946-4428) or Eric Stuckey (946-4432) in the County Administrator's Office or e-mail to eric.stuckey@hamilton-co.org.