Morning News and Stuff

Hamilton County Judge declares eight buildings public nuisances; city park deferred maintenance still facing funding issues; tax error will cost the city $600,000

click to enlarge Burnet Woods
Burnet Woods

Good morning, Cincinnati! Here are your morning headlines. 

The city of Cincinnati could soon seize seven buildings in Over-the-Rhine and one in Avondale if the owner doesn't make costly repairs by March 15. Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Jerome Metz declared the eight buildings "public nuisances" after previously requesting that the buildings' owner, Washington, D.C.-based 2414 Morgan Development, LLC, repair 11 of its buildings by Dec. 17 of last year. The developer has since repaired three of the buildings to meet the approval of city inspectors, but city officials argue the rest of the structures still contribute to neighborhood blight and pose safety hazards for the public and firefighters. The seven buildings located in OTR north of Liberty Street.

• Also in need of repairs: Cincinnati's parks. What do they need exactly? Well, they have years of deferred maintenance, but the Cincinnati Parks Board has been very slow to produce a detailed account of the state of the city's parks and the price of all the repairs required. City Council appears ready to approve an additional $4 million for repairs, but it's unclear what repairs the money would be going toward. Park leaders say it's too small of an amount to repair some of the parks in the worst shape, but they're also not just going to hang onto the money to do fund a series of projects. Meanwhile, Mayor John Cranley and advocates for the failed parks levy in November are still sore from their election loss. Cranley has claimed the $55 million that would have come from the levy could have covered all the deferred maintenance in the city's parks. 

• Errors the city has made in calculating estate tax payments will cost it more than a half-million dollars. The office of Hamilton County Auditor Dusty Rhodes has discovered the city owes $614,514 in tax payments to the county. David Nurre, the auditor's assistant financial director, said in a letter to the city that the money will be subtracted from property tax money the county owes the city. The loss will add to the estimated $13 million deficit the city is facing for fiscal year 2017. 

• A analysis of the report card data released by the Ohio Education Policy Institute last week by consultant Howard Fleeter found big differences between college- and career-readiness for low-income and high-income districts. It discovered more than a 23-point percentage gap for four-year graduation rates between districts whose economically disadvantaged students made up less than 10 percent of the population and those whose disadvantaged populations were 90 percent or higher. The analysis was requested by the Ohio School Boards Association, the Buckeye Association of School Administrators and the Ohio Association of School Business Officials.

• I haven't seen the Oscar-nominated Carol yet, but I know Cincy's super excited about it because it was filmed here. Apparently, the city could see more celebrities like Cate Blanchett show up as the city works hard to attract filmmakers. A University of Cincinnati Economics Center study estimates that the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky Film Commission has generated more than $54 million for the metro area's economy and created 8,800 jobs. The study also found that productions in 2014 and 2015 received $11.8 million in tax credits, footed by taxpayers. 

• The International Olympic Committee has adopted new guidelines that would allow transgendered athletes to compete without sex reassignment surgery. The previous guidelines from 2003 required that athletes transitioning from one sex to the other had to wait two years post-operations and undergo two years of hormone therapy before they were allowed to compete. The new guidelines, which the IOC says are more like recommendations, say that females transitioning to males will now no longer have to wait, and males transitioning to females will have to demonstrate their testosterone level has been below a certain mark for a year before competing.

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