Commissioners: Where are our projects?
So the county spent a ton of time this spring holding public hearings, gathering input, forming committees and debating the merits of dozens of projects that were vying for State Capital Bill funding.
Well, it appears that was all for nothing.
The State Capital list came out this week from Columbus and none of the three projects that the county had specifically deemed priorities (stadium debt money, funding for jail projects) were on it.
Commissioner Todd Portune, frustrated, sent this letter to Gov. Ted Strickland. His point: why spend all this time and effort if it's not going to matter?
At Wednesday's commission meeting he and Commissioner David Pepper gave some more details about what they think went wrong.
Apparently historically Hamilton County has had a kind of haphazard way of presenting projects to the governor for consideration. It was kind of an every-man-for-himself deal, which resulted in all kinds of requests landing in the legislature's lap, without any sense of which ones were the most important.
So this year the county tried to prioritize the projects thorugh that public hearing process mentioned earlier. Problem was, after the committee finalized its recommendations, the local legislators and organizations still went ahead and pushed their own pet projects whether they were on the list or not.
"Apparently they (the state) had more proposals from Hanilton County than any other part of the state and that makes it hard to deal with us," said Pepper. "No one in Columbus has any idea what our real priorities are when we go through this and everyone else piles on and it really is a mess. We need to talk to the chamber and our local delegation about how to make this process mean something. It defeats the purpose and makes it harder for us to get our act together."
Added Portune: "I think its unfortunate."
"We made it clear to everyone that we had adopted a community consenus process and that process was not give weight at the end. The other approaches and back room lobbying that had been a part of this process over the years in a bad way continued to play a role."