Here are ECO’s recommendations. Read the full document here.
Governance of the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati by Hamilton County and the City of Cincinnati
The shared governance of MSDGC lacks shared purposes and goals. Disputes lead to litigation, only to be followed by more disputes. Consent decree work has been delayed threatening missed deadlines, fines and penalties.
We recommend that the MSDGC shared governance be ended as soon as possible and one public entity put in charge. This includes termination of the 1968 agreement and addressing worker transitions and pension issues.
Past oversight of the MSDGC did not insure compliance with the law or proper maintenance of assets. Public input was limited and most citizens had little idea of the extent of sewer problems. This has contributed to making the sewer district more costly, particularly by delaying needed work.
Full governance – management, operation, prioritization, budgeting, ownership of assets and property, compliance, etc. – should be transparent, and accountable to the public, thereby avoiding inappropriate contracting and delays in compliance with laws and the consent decree.
Some have suggested splitting the district up into 2 or more districts. An equitable distribution of assets that have had varying levels of improvements, replacements, or new builds – or none of these – over the past 50 years would be difficult. Furthermore sewer sheds may include two or three political jurisdictions. Previously Judge Spiegel would not permit the city of Loveland to leave the District; it should remain whole.
We recommend that the sewers district remain one sewer district.
The success of either a county sewer district, governed by the Board of Commissioners or a regional sewer district, governed by a Board of Trustees depends on the intent and ability of either Board to provide oversight to the sewer district, and comply with legal requirements.
An independent citizen oversight “watchdog” committee, with the resources and authority to monitor, audit, insure transparency, accountability, and public participation, is key to moving forward.