Thursday, December 21, 2000

County budget defers Olympic vote

Spending for arts, I-71 study also undecided

By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Hamilton County commissioners Wednesday approved a 2001 budget of $1.8 billion that does not include money for the Olympics, arts promotion or an $800,000 Interstate 71 eastern corridor study.

        The budget does include $1.8 million that could be spent on all of those things, but commissioners now must consider and vote on those expenditures separately.

        Votes on the I-71 study and the Olympics might come as soon as next week.

        Commissioner Tom Neyer asked that money for the I-71 study be pulled from the budget until he gets more information about the project and which other communities are contributing.

        Likewise, the $250,000 requested to help fund Cincinnati's bid for the 2012 Olympics was pulled because Commissioner John Dowlin has questioned how much return taxpayers will see on the investment.

        “I want to make sure we're not saddled with debt after 17 days of Games,” Mr. Dowlin said.

        More uncertain is the fate of the $600,000 grant request by the Regional Cultural Alliance, a group that wants to market all of the Tristate's arts institutions.

        Mr. Neyer had wanted to vote on the issue before the end of the year. But the Ohio Ethics Commission gave an advisory recommendation Friday that Mr. Neyer — who chaired an organization that suggested the alliance approach county governments for funding — should not vote on it.

        David Herriman, executive director for the alliance, announced last week that the organization has asked the county to defer a vote on the grant request until next year. That will give the alliance a chance to try to win the support of Mr. Dowlin and incoming Commissioner Todd Portune.

        Commissioners also set the 2001 budget for the Metropolitan Sewer District. The budget includes a 7 percent rate increase.


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