Cincinnati, Ohio – Communities United For Action (CUFA) released an open letter today, detailing its position on the 45-year agreement made by the City of Cincinnati and the Board of County Commissioners about the operation of the Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD).

Among the concerns outlined in the letter, CUFA takes issue with the lack of clarity about how the Citizen Board created by the agreement will function, and particularly, how it will help ratepayers and people suffering from sewer backups.

Read the letter in its entirety here:

September 7, 2017

Board of County Commissioners
Members of Cincinnati City Council
Mayor of Cincinnati

Re: CUFA position on MSD “Commitment Letter”

Dear Mayor, City Council and Board of County Commissioners,

The agreement detailing a plan for the operation of the Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) for the next 45 years sets up undefined, unelected, paid roles for a “Citizen Board” to oversee day-to-day operations at MSD. We recognize that some changes were made to better ensure transparency and fair hiring practices, however, CUFA still has concerns about the future of MSD under the Citizen Board. CUFA supports:

  • MSD to remain under public ownership, with public accountability over its budget;
  • Public participation in the appointments and removal of Citizen Board members;
  • Guards against nepotism and cronyism on the Citizen Board;
  • Well-defined roles for Citizen Board members
  • Qualifications for Citizen Board membership, including residency and representation for sewer backup victims;
  • A public budget for the additional cost of the Citizen Board to ratepayers;
  • A grievance process for the public;
  • A resolution to the issue of insolvency of the Cincinnati Retirement System that does not rest on the backs of MSD ratepayers;

We are disappointed that there were none of the above requirements for Citizen Board added to the amendments made before passage of the commitment letter August 14, after public testimony nearly unanimously supported these changes.

Citizen Board members are still only accountable to their appointing body, which adds another level of bureaucracy between ratepayers and MSD.  The board could be have been set up to be elected and accountable to ratepayers directly, but those changes were not made.

The hasty process for approval for this 45 year agreement seemed to have been focused on one thing alone: Hamilton County’s bond rating. In the special committee process, one thing that was made clear was that if this agreement wasn’t ratified, ratepayers will pay.

But Hamilton County residents are already paying the price of slowed down work to resolve overflows and backups, rapidly increasing rates and a lack of responsiveness from MSD, the BOCC and the City of Cincinnati for helping residents experiencing backups and property damage. We do not have faith that this agreement, as was passed, will resolve those issues.

Please respond to CUFA at cufa@cufacincy.org.

Sincerely,

Marilyn Evans
Board Member

Communities United For Action