Cincinnati, Ohio - On Tuesday, Communities United For Action (CUFA) carolers echoed through the lobby of the Hamilton County Commissioners office, bringing holiday cheer and calling attention to residents still struggling to deal with sewer backups and overflows.
"I'm dreaming of our fixed sewers, unlike the ones that overflow," they sang to the tune of "White Christmas" (Irving Berlin). "Where the basements glisten, and politicians listen to hear what we already know."
The carolers came to comment on the proposed 2020 budget for the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati (MSD), delivering their written comments to Commissioners.
CUFA asked for several improvements to be made to the proposed budget:
- An increase to $20 million for the sewer backup response and prevention programs;
- A line item for an independent audit of the backup program compliance with federal Consent Decree mandates;
- A contingency budget for buying out impacted homes on Muddy Creek should federal grant money not be issued in 2020;
- The addition of seniors who rent their homes to the Customer Assistance Program (CAP) for low-income residents;
- An increase in the budget and clear plan for outreach to increase enrollment in the CAP program, including advertisement in every water & sewer bill;
- Funding for neighborhood sewer fixes where residents are being impacted by repeated sewer backups and overflows, for example, Ludlow Run watershed in Northside, Bond Hill, Roselawn, Lincoln Heights, Covedale, Golf Manor, Green Township, and Norwood.
CUFA says the Hamilton County Commissioners should not approve any new rate increases until MSD implements comprehensive CAP programs to help everyone struggling to afford the sewer bills and restructures sewer rates to be more fair and equitable to all ratepayers.
"I'm dreaming of a plan that includes us with every hearing I attend. Be transparent with the money you spend, and may all our neighborhoods you mend," carolers sang to push for City and County agreement on the next phase of sewer fixes.
You can check out the Cincinnati Enquirer coverage of the sewer carolers here: https://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/2019/12/17/metropolitan-sewer-district-residents-sing-carols-over-sewage-backups/2674492001/
The County Commission is expected to vote on Thursday, Dec. 19. See event details here: https://www.cufacincy.org/tell_hamco_commissioners_no_sewer_rate_increase_20191219