Thursday, September 14, 2000

County agrees to ante up

Mayor Luken says $2 million due for riverfront

By Robert Anglen
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Cincinnati officials say Hamilton County tried to wiggle out of an agreement to pay $2 million for decks over Fort Washington Way.

        After waiting four months for a payment, Mayor Charlie Luken said Wednesday, the city instead got a letter from the county offering to pay 20 percent of project costs or $2 million, whichever was lower.

        “I was under the impression the money had already been paid,” Mr. Luken told City Council. “I was surprised to learn that a couple of weeks ago we got this letter.”

        The county has since agreed to pay the full $2 million, but Mr. Luken said no explanation has been given for where the 20 percent figure came from.

        With project costs now estimated at about $9 million, the county would have been left paying about $1.8 million.

        “Two million dollars is the higher number,” City Manager John Shirey said. “As far as I know, we have not received a transaction of funds. We are still waiting.”

        In May, county commissioners voted to pay $2 million to help the city pay for pilings that would support decks over the newly constructed Fort Washington Way that could someday be turned into parks.

        Another $2 million came from downtown business interests and already has been paid. The remainder was to be paid by the city.

        “I was angry because the city took on the lion's share of the money,” Mr. Luken said. “I called (County Commissioner) Bob Bedinghaus and told him you and I made a deal. His response to me was, "You're right.'”

        Mr. Bedinghaus, who voted for the proposal, could not be reached for comment Wednesday. Neither could County Administrator David Krings, who wrote the letter with the 20 percent clause.

        The question over the county's contribution was raised by Councilman Paul Booth, who repeatedly has asked whether the city received the $2 million.

        Mr. Luken apologized to council, saying he feels bad about it since he brought the deal forward.

        “I think we've worked it out,” he said.

        “But we still don't have the money.”


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