Cranley, Portune Propose Shared Services Task Force

Mayor John Cranley and Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune on Nov. 10 proposed creating a task force that could help the city and county governments share services.

Mayor John Cranley and Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune on Nov. 10 proposed creating a task force that could help the city and county governments share services.

The idea has been raised in the past with little progress, due in part to politics and an unwillingness to cut departments. But Portune and Cranley point to city-county cooperation on past projects as proof the two governments can coordinate.

Portune sent a proposal to former Mayor Mark Mallory about the idea in 2011. Republican Hamilton County Commissioners Greg Hartmann and Chris Monzel have also expressed interest in shared services over the years.

Hartmann has said coordinating services between the two bodies is a matter of political will, not necessarily further study. He has not indicated whether he will support Cranley and Portune’s proposal.

Portune said The Banks project downtown is a great example of what the city and county can do together.

“All of the new development at The Banks, all of that was planned and envisioned and decided through a joint city and county effort,” Portune said during a news conference Nov. 10. He said a similar arrangement could work on a more permanent basis, helping both the city and county save valuable resources.

Cranley and Portune will introduce proposals at Cincinnati City Council and board of commissioners meetings this week asking both bodies to create the task force. The group would meet at least quarterly with commissioners and council members.

“We have to try all things,” Cranley said. He said dwindling resources and looming changes in the way the state taxes busineses could take a bite out of local government funds.

Under the shared services arrangement, some departments in both governments, such as the county’s permitting departments or the city’s Environmental Services Office, could eventually see reductions.

Cranley said a few areas spring to mind as possible places for sharing services, including the city prosecutor’s office. But he said that doesn’t mean the office will close up shop.

“I think the city is going to maintain a prosecutorial function,” Cranley said, noting that he thinks the city is better suited to pursue some cases, such as negligent property owners. “I think our efforts will be ramped up in some cases, not reduced.”

Portune said the effort could lead to wider cooperation among local governments. There is great interest in pooling resources and sharing services among the area’s 48 municipalities and other jurisdictions, he said.

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