Hartmann Delivers State of the County

By Brad Underwood – bio | email

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) – It's the greatest challenge facing Hamilton County says Commissioner Greg Hartmann, paying for the two sports stadiums.  Today Hartmann delivered his first State of the County address in front of the Cincinnati Rotary Club in downtown Cincinnati.

"The facts are these, through 2032 over a billion dollars is owed in debt service to bond holders for construction of these stadiums," said Hartmann.

Due to deals made over a decade ago, the county must pay $30 million a year to keep Great American Ball Park and Paul Brown Stadium. Legally the teams are not obligated to help, but the Commission Presidents is hopeful the Reds and Bengals will chip in.

"This fund will run over six hundred million dollars in the red, yes that's a six with eight zero's behind it," said Hartmann.

Hamilton County is facing a deficit between $12 and $15 million for 2011. Hartmann told supporter's services may be merged to help fill some of the gaps.

In December of 2010, Cincinnati City Council tossed around the idea of merging the Cincinnati Police Department and the Hamilton County Sheriff's Department.  Hartmann says that idea isn't completely out of the picture.

"I fully support the exploration and study of consolidating this function because we owe it to ourselves to find out if it will work and whether it saves money," said Hartmann.

However, Law enforcement may not be the only service condensed or outsourced.

Hartmann told the hundred plus crowd that the county facilities department operates a $20 million budget with a quarter of that chewed up by personnel costs.

"While I'm not an anti maintenance man, a rule of thumb in my opinion is we can find this service in the phone book we ought to look at contracting it out," said Hartmann.

Ground was broken last week for the new Cincinnati casino, and Hartmann says he will use about $10 million to help with stadium fund debt, but that is future money.  For now, tax credits will remain reduced.

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