Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Using Stimulus $$$ To Fund Our Priorities, Create Jobs

Today's Enquirer highlighted that there are a whole lot of requests, and indeed a whole lot of strange requests, for stimulus money in Ohio, which I guess is not surprising given how open the request process is.

But let's be clear--governments that do not invest these dollars strategically, responsibly, and in a way that not only furthers basic priorities but provides a near-term boost in the local economy and job creation, will be blowing a major opportunity.

So here at the County, we are being disciplined and focused in planning on how these dollars will be spent.

Today, we unanimously agreed to a Stimulus Master List that summarizes the county’s strategy and priorities for funding from the federal economic stimulus package (and later federal funding appropriations). The list reflects key strategic priorities and transformational projects that will spark job creation and permanently enhance the competitiveness and economic prospects of Hamilton County.

To read the full list and plan, go here.

The County plan includes key priorities, such as infrastructure, economic development
and public safety. And rather than supporting hundreds of small projects, we chose to be strategic—picking the handful of projects that carry the biggest bang for the buck.

Leading the list is the request to invest in priority infrastructure and transportation projects. The county will request funding for a number of elements of the Banks Riverfront Development Project—including the Riverfront Park, accelerating completion of the street infrastructure, and even adding “decks” over Ft. Washington Way that will literally add several blocks to our downtown. The point is to do everything we can to accelerate and enhance the project, beyond the current plan, schedule and financing would otherwise allow. And accelerating the project also means we save millions of dollars.

Other transportation priorities include critical shovel-ready road and bridge projects across the County, as well as exploring potential upgrades to our region’s freight rail and port capacity so our businesses can best compete in the global economy.

For Public safety, the County Commission’s top budgetary priority, the County is working with the Sheriff to see what funds are available to offset cuts and layoffs due to the bad economy, as well as explore other ways to improve safety, increase front-line public safety services, and help reduce the jail overcrowding problem.

Finally, the County will also look to use stimulus dollars to retake blighted properties left in the wake of the foreclosure crisis, invest in brownfield redevelopment and sewer upgrade projects, and increase energy efficiency in homes and businesses across the County.


Anonymous said...

Why isn't the county trying to get some federal money for a Light Rail system?

Brad said...

Would the decks be used as parkland or would they support structures?

Anonymous said...


Banks, Banks, Banks that's all we hear !

Hey gang, the banks are failing !

Not one program or project for transitional housing ?

Not one project for community shelters ?

Brother can't you spare a dime ?


David Pepper said...

The decks could either be a park (like Lytle Park, which is a deck as well), or structures.

Anon #3, the county will (automatically) be receiving a good amount (more than $1M) of dollars to deal with homelessness/shelters through the stimulus. I'll let people know how it can (and will) be spent once we get all the information, but we definitely want to do what we can--particularly to end the trend of having homeless people arrested and jailed over and over again.

Anonymous said...


Oh please: 1 million for homelessness.

While begging multi-millions for buildings ?

Sorry, that did not appease U.S. !


Anonymous said...


The county can live without the banks as we have for years, but, you came to the taxpayers for needed projects.

Those projects should have come first before some corporate windfall to have offices, retail on the banks.


Anonymous said...

David - If Hamilton County sees any money it should first build a new jail. Not a hotel or waste money to rehab those who will always be criminals.

I voted for the first sales tax bill, cannot tell you why it was voted down. I voted against the second bill because after the first was voted down by the majority of taxpayers you and Portune told us to go to hell "you will pay the tax." That was not right.

Again, build a jail with no frills. Hire and train more Hamilton County police officers. Crime is getting worse. No I do not believe Mallory he has his head in the sand and his personal bodyguard.

Don't allow what has happened to the City happen to Hamilton County. Many folks including myself are very close to taking a loss on our homes and bailing out of Hamilton County.

I think it is up to you and Portune to listen to the folks who have lived and paid taxes in both the City and County for over 40 years.

David Pepper said...

Thanks for your comment about public safety. We are indeed exploring funding opportunities that could improve public safety, including corrections and patrol officers.

As for a jail, we can only seek funds for purposes for which the stimulus dollars are made available. The large infrastructure dollars are for roads, rail and other economic and infrastructure purposes--not jail construction as far as we can tell. Also, as we tried to explain in 2007, the most expensive part of a new jail is the cost of operating it, not building it. So unless there was funding for that, in addition to the capital requirements, you'd have an empty jail. (and citizens have clearly shown they don't want to pay higher taxes to operate a new jail).

But the stimulus still has other opportunities to help with jail overcrowding, and we are exploring them. Also, if our revenues pick up, we will also have the option of renting space at Campbell County, at a much cheaper rate than we've had to pay in the past.

David Pepper said...

Update: I'll be meeting with the Sheriff today to discuss the best way to use stimulus dollars to help our jail and other public safety challenges.

Anonymous said...

Available revenue for jail type infrastructure may be eligible if used to support a transitioning center. This type of facility may be grant eligible, and would move us toward a more sensible strategy to deal with our marginal populations who tend to get caught up in the justice system.

Anonymous said...

When is the County going to get serious about a County-wide combination of police, fire and ems services? With costs continuing to rise for vehicles and personnel it makes sense to combine services and equipment. Fire equipment alone runs about 200K for an ambulance, $500-$650K for a pumper or rescue truck and over $1M for a ladder truck. We can't afford to have equipment sitting idle.

Indianapolis and other cities have reaped savings and improved efficiency at the same time.

The County and the cities must realize we all share the same problems.

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