City, county leaders talk unified government

By Joe Danneman - bio | email

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Cincinnati's mayor and Hamilton County's sheriff both say more layoffs are coming. as the county and city try to balance their budgets.

Now, some local leaders say those problems can be solved with a unified government.

"We have got to do things that minimize the cost of government," says sheriff Simon Leis.

Leis says he's pushed this idea of a unified metro government for several years.

"They've got to do something. You can't keep going the way we're going right now with the budget crunch," he said.

Now, Leis has some county support from commissioner Greg Hartmann, who says a unified government is a "good idea," and some city support from councilmember Chris Bortz, who says, "It's a great idea."

The idea is to combine city and county governments and its services, including police and fire departments to save everyone money.

"We have got a government right now that we can't afford and to solve that, we have got to look outside the box at new ways of doing things," said Hartmann.

Hartmann says a county team will research if unified government is working in other cities.

Bortz says the city started its research a couple of years ago.

"We have an unusual problem in our region. We have a tendency to ignore best practices in other parts of the country and it takes us a long time to figure it out. I think, ultimately, the voters, the public is going to demand it," said Bortz.

Greg Hartmann says voters will have to approve these kind of major government changes. But, says it's unlikely it'll be ready by this November's ballot.

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