Drama Continues Around MSD; More News

With a 50-year-old agreement around joint operation of the Metropolitan Sewer District expiring at the end of the month, Cincinnati and Hamilton County are back in court again

MSD's Lick Run Greenway project under consrtuction - Nick Swartsell
Nick Swartsell
MSD's Lick Run Greenway project under consrtuction

Hello Cincinnati. This will be a pretty somber news roundup, given recent events, but let’s get caught up anyway.

As you probably already know, tragedy struck yesterday morning at the Fifth Third Center just off Fountain Square downtown when gunman Omar Santa-Perez opened fire in the lobby of the building, killing three and wounding two others. Cincinnati Police shot and killed Santa-Perez within minutes. You can read our full, completely updated story on the horrific day here. A vigil for the victims is planned for 4 p.m. today at Fountain Square.

• Hamilton County Court Judge Curt Hartman will rule on Cincinnati’s beleaguered billboard tax after a hearing today, WCPO reports. Hartman placed a temporary restraining order on the city keeping it from executing the tax after Norton Outdoor Advertising and Lamar Advertising, the city’s largest billboard companies, sued. Cincinnati City Council voted to institute the tax to plug a yawning budget gap earlier this summer, and if Hartman shoots it down permanently, the city will need to find roughly $837,000 to shore up this year’s financial plan.

• The city will also be in court soon over the Metropolitan Sewer District. Cincinnati and Hamilton County thought they had a deal on a new agreement over joint control of the sewer district — one that would have given most daily operations over to the county while keeping MSD employees in the city’s pension system — but it has since fallen apart. Things got really tense this week, when the city threatened to pull out of MSD. Hamilton County officials called that move “reckless” and went to federal court Wednesday to block the city’s departure. There will likely be a court battle, but time is running out: the 50-year-old agreement that split control of MSD between the city and county ends at the end of September. MSD also must continue to make progress on $3.2 billion in federal court-ordered fixes to the sewer system to address environmental issues. Here’s more in this Cincinnati Enquirer story.

• Cincinnati-based developer Model Group is donating 20 properties containing 1,100 units of affordable housing in Kentucky and Ohio to a national nonprofit dedicated to low-income housing. Boston-based Preservation of Affordable Housing will take over ownership and operations of housing units in Over-the-Rhine, Walnut Hills, Price Hill Evanston and Covington, among other locations. Model group has also sold its Brickstone Properties unit to POAH. Brickstone previously oversaw properties like Parkway Towers. POAH’s nonprofit status means it can raise money for social services for its residents, helping them out of poverty. That, Model says, is the goal for the portfolio POAH will be taking over. The two housing providers are also teaming up on new affordable housing development in Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio. You can read more about the deal in this article from the Cincinnati Business Courier.

• The Clermont County Port Authority Wednesday approved the issuance of bonds for a $30 million practice facility for FC Cincinnati. Under the deal, the port will own the facility and lease it back to the team, which will not pay property taxes on the land, nor sales taxes on materials for its construction. The sales tax incentive is estimated to be worth $1 million, and the property tax break will be worth $16 million to $20 million. Instead of taxes, the team will pay $50,000 a year to Milford schools, as well as make the facility available to the district. The team will also pay the port $105,000 up front and $9,000 a year in fees. In August, the city of Milford agreed to put up $3.5 million toward buying the land for the stadium with FCC paying another $1.5 million.

• Ohio’s Democrat and Republican gubernatorial contenders are set for three debates in the coming months. The first, Sept. 19, will be at the University of Dayton. The second, Oct. 1, will be at Marietta College. The third, Oct. 8, will be at Cleveland State University. All three will take place at 7 p.m. Green Party gubernatorial hopeful Constance Gadell-Newton and Libertarian Party candidate Travis Irvine were not included in those debates — something both parties are protesting. 

That’s it for the end of week update. Please, take care of each other this weekend and do something to spend some time with your city. Cincinnati needs your love.

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