City of Cincinnati Office of the Mayor
September 21, 2012
Room 150, City Hall 801 Plum Street Cincinnati, Ohio 45202 Phone (513) 352-3250 Fax (513) 352-5201
Commissioner Greg Hartmann President, Hamilton County Commission County Administrative Building, Room 603 138 East Court Street Cincinnati, Ohio 45202 Dear Commissioner Hartmann: I received your letter concerning the City-County Shared Services Committee, apparently at the same time that the media received it, and just an hour before you met with the Enquirer Editorial Board. We have had a strong working relationship since you have become Commission President. So, I was surprised and disappointed that you sent the letter to the media instead of sharing your concerns with me directly; after all, you have my cell phone number. You are the fourth Commission President I have worked with, and Phil Heimlich, David Pepper, and Todd Portune never would have handled City/County relations in such a confrontational manner. And I have always treated each Commission President with respect and as a full partner. For a variety of reasons, I no longer believe that the City County Shared Services Committee is in the best interest of the citizens of the City of Cincinnati. The City and the County already collaborate on multiple projects and initiatives every day. Under the leadership of City Manager Milton Dohoney, every City Department has a mandate to improve services, find efficiencies, and reduce costs. And, new collaborations or partnerships that achieve those goals will always be considered. As the scope of the proposed committeeâ€™s work was developed, it became clear to me that not only were we already collaborating at a high level, but that several new collaborations proposed by the City had met resistance from the County. I began to question the need for a committee to conduct a $400,000 study of future collaboration if there were already potential new collaborations sitting on the shelf. I also grew increasingly concerned that the initiative was taking a partisan, anti-city government tone. It began to feel as though outsourcing city services to the County or direct privatization were the predetermined goals. And make no mistake, I am all for collaboration, but I have a long history of opposing privatization.
Equal Opportunity Employer
Additionally, I will never give away the ability of the citizens of Cincinnati to control crucial City functions, such as prosecutors and health clinics, and place that authority in the hands of county elected officials, who may or may not share the interests of our citizens. The citizens of Cincinnati must retain authority over how City resources are directed. You and I both know that the recommendations of the Shared Services Committee would never have resulted in close to enough savings to close the Countyâ€™s budget deficit, and to pretend otherwise is disingenuous. All of that said, I completely disagree with your insinuation that the City and County are not collaborating or that the only way that we could collaborate is through this specific committee. The truth is that the City and the County work together every day on joint initiatives that improve services, create efficiencies, and save money, including the Banks development; the Convention and Visitors Bureau; the Metropolitan Sewer District; emergency operations; the Port Authority; the Green Partnership for Greater Cincinnati; air quality enforcement; a host of Health related programs including infant mortality; bridge maintenance; CAGIS; printing; and the successful planning for the World Choir Games; to name just a few. In fact, we just jointly applied for a grant for transportation infrastructure improvements this week. The City has contracted with the County for $1.9 million since 2008 to operate our Tenant Based Rental Assistance Program to reduce duplication. We work together on the Neighborhood Stabilization Program Consortium, which has managed over $24 million in federal grants to help seven targeted communities throughout the county. And, in February, I personally signed off on a deal to save $500,000 by contracting with Hamilton County Jobs and Family Services to take over management of the SuperJobs Center. There also have been several previous studies of possible collaboration, most recently GCEP, and those efforts have led to some great collaborations. There have been times when after further study, it was clear that the collaboration would not yield the savings that were projected. Even as you criticize the City, we are still working toward new collaboration. We have submitted a proposal to the County that would co-locate City and County development and permitting operations at the Cityâ€™s One-Stop Center on Central Parkway. This partnership would streamline procedures for builders throughout the county. The City has invited the County to participate in our Regional Fleet Maintenance Facility Study at no cost to the County. The regional facility could lead to long term cost savings for both governments. In addition, the County had an opportunity to partner with the City to reduce health care costs and use the Indigent Care Levy more efficiently. The Countyâ€™s own consultant, H W & Company, recommended that the County should use a portion of the levy to provide county residents access to primary care at the City Health Center System. That would have reduced emergency room visits and allowed thousands of Hamilton County residents to have quicker and more efficient access to health care services. The County chose to decline on that partnership opportunity.
Passing on this opportunity illustrates my concern that the Countyâ€™s intentions are not truly about providing services to our citizens more efficiently, but instead are motivated either by a selfinterested need to balance the Countyâ€™s budget on the back of the City, or by strictly partisan goals. I have the utmost respect for the three co-chairs of the proposed committee. However, I no longer believe that we need to conduct a costly study when the public sector experts who work for the City and County are already proposing partnerships that are being left on the table. I have mentioned some specific areas for collaboration above. Your letter specifically mentioned purchasing, fire hydrant maintenance, and increased collaboration on economic development. I am open to exploring those types of potential partnerships in specific, individual areas. I feel very strongly that it is time to take the politics out and leave the matter to the public sector professionals. The City Manager is ready to meet with the County Administrator to discuss any proposed partnership that would improve the lives of our citizens by improving service, increasing efficiency, or saving money. I am completely committed to continuing the long history of daily collaboration between the City and the County. I have truly appreciated the partnership that I had with the County Commission Presidents since I have been Mayor. I certainly hope that your recent actions are an aberration and we can restore that working relationship for the good of all citizens of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.
Mark Mayor CC:
Milton Dohoney, Jr. iti City Council
Hamilton County Commission Committee Chair Cynthia Booth Committee Chair Tom Cody Committee Chair Bob Kohlhepp Tom Williams, Cincinnati Business Committee