BATAVIA, Ohio – The Clermont County Opiate Task Force voted to oppose Issue 1, a proposed constitution amendment that would change drug sentencing laws, at its meeting on Oct. 11.
Although the Opiate Task Force supports sentencing reform, it believes that amending the constitution, instead of going through the Legislature, is the wrong way to do this.
The task force is comprised of stakeholders representing county government, agencies and the courts (Commissioners, Clermont County Public Health, Clermont County Mental Health & Recovery Board (MHRB), Municipal Court Probation, Common Pleas Court Probation, Public Defender, Children’s Protective Services, County Sheriff); Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services; Clermont Mercy Hospital; law enforcement and fire/EMS departments; faith-based organizations and private citizens.
At the meeting, a panel including Common Pleas Judge Jerry McBride, Assistant Prosecutor Darren Miller, Sheriff Steve Leahy, Commissioners Ed Humphrey and David Painter, and Karen Scherra, Executive Director of MHRB, spoke out against Issue 1 and detailed the impact it would have on the county courts, law enforcement and the County Jail, and taxpayers.
Issue 1 is a proposed constitutional amendment that would, among other things, reduce drug possession offenses from felonies to misdemeanors, prohibit jail time for any such offenses unless it is the third offense within 24 months, and reduce sentences of those in prison for any crimes other than murder, rape or child molestation by up to 25% if the individual is enrolled in programs in prison.
Among the drugs it would reduce penalties for is fentanyl, an extremely dangerous opioid that has been responsible for a number of deaths in Ohio. Under Issue 1, anyone caught with less than 20 grams of fentanyl would face a misdemeanor instead of prison time. A lethal dose of fentanyl can be as small as 2 milligrams; 20 grams could kill thousands of people.
The Clermont County Prosecutor’s Office and Municipal and Common Pleas Court judges are concerned that the broad language in Issue 1 would eliminate sentencing discretion for judges.
Common Pleas Judge Jerry McBride noted that both Municipal and Common Pleas Court judges work with lesser offenders to get them into treatment instead of jail or prison. “The reality is that less and less low-level offenders go to jail every day. For years, the emphasis has been on treatment,” he said.
“Long-term treatment is necessary for many drug users, and Issue 1 will make it more difficult for the criminal justice system to get drug users into long-term treatment. Issue 1 will eliminate the ability of courts to punish users of dangerous drugs who refuse to stay in treatment and who are a risk to the community,” Judge McBride elaborated.
In addition, Issue 1 would prohibit the courts from sentencing anyone on community control – popularly known as probation – to prison for probation violations, unless that person has committed another felony. “That effectively means that a person sentenced to community control for a felony can refuse to do anything, including participate in treatment, once placed on community control and the court has no real recourse,” Judge McBride said.
Proponents of Issue 1 say that the millions of dollars that will be saved by having fewer people in prison will be funneled into treatment at the local level. However, an analysis last week of Issue 1 by the Ohio Office of Management & Budget disputes that. The report says that the prisoner reduction will not be as large as predicted, and that county municipal courts and jails will end up shouldering many more costs. Fewer people in prison will mean more people in jail, said Sheriff Leahy, a cost that will be borne by county taxpayers.
Karen Scherra of the Mental Health & Recovery Board said that although her board is in favor of legislative reforms, it opposes Issue 1. “We do not see treatment increasing under Issue 1,” she said. “It’s often the stick of criminal justice that gets people into treatment.” She noted that her board has worked closely with county partners in criminal justice as well as the Commissioners to come up with initiatives in the battle against the opioid problems in the county. “If this passes we will watch a system that we worked really hard to build up collapse,” she said.
On Oct.3, the Clermont County Commissioners passed a resolution opposing Issue 1. Also opposing Issue 1 are the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association, the Ohio Bar Association, the County Commissioners Association of Ohio, Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, and the Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities.
BATAVIA, Ohio (Oct. 3, 2018) – Clermont County Commissioners today (Oct. 3) passed a resolution opposing Issue 1, a proposed amendment to the Ohio Constitution that would change drug possession offenses to misdemeanors and eliminate prison and jail time for most drug possession offenses.
Commissioners noted that Clermont County Common Pleas Court judges opposed Issue 1, which they believe would lead to more illegal drug use in Clermont County, and remove any sentencing discretion they have.
Commissioners also believe that Issue 1 would lead to a greater strain on county resources and become more of a tax burden on its residents. Although Issue 1 says that the money saved by reducing the number of offenders in state prisons would be directed toward treatment, the mechanism for doing that is unclear, and Commissioners believe that responsibility would fall to local governments.
“Issue 1 will lead to many unintended consequences in Ohio if voters approve it,” said Ed Humphrey, President of the Board of County Commissioners. “We do believe that the State of Ohio should put more resources toward drug treatment and rehabilitation but we do not believe that Issue 1 is the proper means to achieve that.”
Among those opposing Issue 1 are the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association, the Ohio Bar Association, the County Commissioners Association of Ohio, and Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor.
“Ohio may end up with some of the most lenient drug crime laws in the nation if this proposed constitutional amendment passes,” Justice O’Connor said. “Our state could easily become a magnet for substance abuse activity because there will be, in effect, very little criminal justice consequences to engaging in such behavior.”
Commissioners urged Clermont County voters to vote no on Issue 1. The General Election will be held Nov. 6.
The new hours, which will begin the week of Oct. 8, are:
Wed: Noon – 7 p.m.
Thu: Noon – 7 p.m.
Fri: Noon – 7 p.m.
Sat: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sun: 11a.m. – 5 p.m.
The shelter is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
The animal shelter is operated by the Clermont Animal CARE Humane Society. Since Clermont Animal CARE began managing the shelter in January, it has taken in 48% more dogs and 104% more cats compared to the same period last year.
Its Live Release program, which includes adoptions, transfers and returns to owner, is up 43% for dogs and 66% for cats. “We have expanded our traditional fostering program to include a ‘Let’s Do Lunch’ and other short-term fostering options to give the community a chance to help in a fun yet important way by giving dogs a chance to get out of the shelter without any long-term commitments,” said Executive Director Carolyn Evans.
Clermont Animal CARE is adding services and resources as part of its commitment to being a pet resource center for the community. It has helped pet owners who are facing financial difficulties with temporary food and housing assistance for pets. The humane society is also working with the UCAN Spay/Neuter Clinic to get owned pets and community cats and neutered. The surgery fee for dogs is $75.
Two spay/neuter specials are available through the end of the year. Cats are just $20 for Clermont County residents, and pit bulls are free, through Dec. 31. UCAN offers free round-trip transportation from the animal shelter the fourth Tuesday of every month. If interested, people should call UCAN directly to schedule at 513.762.0130.
BATAVIA, Ohio (Sept. 26, 2018) – Clermont County’s South Afton Industrial Park has been certified a SiteOhio Industrial Site by JobsOhio, meaning it has JobsOhio’s imprint as a site “ready for immediate development on day one.”
South Afton is the first industrial park in Southwest Ohio to receive the SiteOhio authentication. It joins 12 other industrial sites throughout Ohio. South Afton comprises 242 acres at Half Acre Road and State Route 32 in Williamsburg Township. Its first project, a distribution facility for upscale furniture manufacturer Design Within Reach, is expected to open next spring and will employ 85 people.
To obtain the authentication, Clermont County had to complete a number of investigative studies as well as install infrastructure on the site. The county began working to accomplish this in 2016, the year it purchased the property. The infrastructure included 2,000 linear feet of road, water main and sanitary sewers, storm water infrastructure, a natural gas line, and conduit for electric, telecom and fiber. All told, the county has invested $2.5 million in infrastructure at South Afton.
The studies included an environmental Phase I report, a geotechnical report, a historic and cultural resources report, a wetlands study, and an endangered species study. Detailed information had to be provided on utility excess capacities, including water, sanitary sewer, natural gas and electric. Duke Energy worked closely with the county on the site.
“The SiteOhio process required Clermont County to meet some very exacting and tough standards,” said Ed Humphrey, President of the Board of County Commissioners. “This authentication will tell potential companies that seek us out that we are serious about providing the best environment possible for their expansion.”
Kristi Clouse, JobsOhio Executive Director of Operations, said, “The SiteOhio Authentication provides businesses the confidence that they can invest in Clermont County successfully on day one. The South Afton site is the first in Southwest Ohio to receive this distinction, and we are excited for the opportunities it can bring to job creators looking to grow in Williamsburg Township.”
JobsOhio began its SiteOhio authentication program in 2016. It hired InSite Consulting Group to evaluate industrial park sites around the state to determine if they met the standards for being included in the SiteOhio program. InSite said South Afton has great potential. “The South Afton Industrial Park is one of the top industrial parks in the Midwest,” said Rob Cornwell of InSite Consulting. “When you combine Clermont County’s great economic development team with the Site Ohio authentication program, the Design Within Reach location is the first of many more to come.”
“Clermont County has become a model for site competitiveness in Southwest Ohio by investing for long-term success,” said Kimm Lauterbach, President & CEO of REDI Cincinnati. “With the creation of the South Afton Industrial Park, Clermont County will be attracting new businesses to build, invest, and create jobs in our region for years to come. As the first site in Southwest Ohio authenticated through the SiteOhio program, we look forward to seeing more companies grow in Greater Cincinnati.”
Andy Kuchta, Director of Clermont County Department of Community & Economic
Development, added, “Some prospective clients that come to JobsOhio won’t even look at a site unless it has been authenticated as SiteOhio. With the SiteOhio authentication, South Afton Industrial Park will have even more appeal to businesses looking to expand or relocate.”
About South Afton Industrial Park: South Afton is a 242-acre industrial park at the southeastern corner of State Route 32 and Half Acre Road in Williamsburg Township. The land was purchased by the Clermont County CIC in February 2016 for $4.9 million, using proceeds from the Ivy Pointe development in Union Township. An economic impact study by the Economics Center of the University of Cincinnati estimated that the industrial park would eventually create more than 1,800 direct jobs and more than 1,600 indirect jobs. Read more here: http://cincinnatiohioindustrialpark.com/.
By Ed Humphrey, President
David Painter, Vice President
David Uible, Member
Clermont County Board of Commissioners
As Clermont County Commissioners, we are very concerned about the continued decline of funding from the State of Ohio to counties. This has been going on for several years, and has had a severe impact on our ability to provide services both mandated and needed by our residents.
We fully support the County Commissioners Association of Ohio’s “Stronger Counties. Stronger Partnership. Stronger Ohio” initiative, which has proposed a number of measures to address the concerns of counties throughout our state. On Sept. 20, 2018, we passed a resolution voicing that support.
Here is what CCAO is proposing, all of which we support:
As reliable revenue sources have declined for the county, our obligations have only grown. The opioid crisis alone costs counties tens of millions of dollars a year.
In Clermont County, we’ve seen a huge increase in costs for law enforcement, courts, jail, mental health and treatment, not to mention the impact on children and families, all stemming from the opioid crisis. Counties are bearing a disproportionate share of these costs.
CCAO recently met with Mike DeWine and Richard Cordray, both running for the office of governor, to detail the concerns of Ohio counties and brief the candidates on measures that could put the partnership between the state and counties on a stronger footing.
The next governor and Legislature must address these concerns and take steps to address these budgetary issues. We value our partnership with the State of Ohio, and we know it can become a fairer one.
COLUMBUS, Ohio (Sept. 20, 2019) – Clermont County Commissioners are joining the County Commissioners Association of Ohio (CCAO) to call for a stronger partnership between state and county government as they released “Stronger Counties. Stronger Partnership. Stronger Ohio,” a briefing guide detailing county funding needs. CCAO and counties around Ohio are asking that these needs be addressed in future state budgets and legislation.
On Sept. 19, Clermont County Commissioners passed a resolution in support of the Stronger Partnership initiative.
The CCAO board met on July 20 with both major gubernatorial candidates (Richard Cordray, and Mike DeWine) and their respective lieutenant governor candidates (Betty Sutton and Jon Husted) to brief them on issues confronting counties and how to work together for Ohio’s future.
“Ohio’s 88 counties serve as branch administrative offices of the state by providing vital services. Counties are given this specific responsibility but limited authority by the Ohio Revised Code,” CCAO President Daniel Troy said. “CCAO was very pleased with the meetings with both gubernatorial candidates, as we look to foster an improved and stronger relationship between state and county government. Collaboration and cooperation between the two government entities must exist to strengthen counties and improve the well-being of all Ohioans.”
State polices enacted over the last decade have placed counties in the difficult position of balancing revenue loss with escalating costs. The loss of the Medicaid managed care organization (MCO) sales tax, severe reductions in the Local Government Fund (LGF) and the phase-out of the tangible personal property tax (TPP) has eliminated approximately $351 million per year in county revenue statewide.
“Counties in Ohio have experienced one financial blow after another,” said Ed Humphrey, President of the Clermont County Board of Commissioners and immediate past President of CCAO. “The State of Ohio’s fiscal policies, including a reduction in the Local Government Fund, and the growth in exemptions to the sales tax, have meant that counties are hamstrung in their abilities to provide the services that Ohioans need.”
“To take just one example, indigent defense is a responsibility of the state,” Mr. Humphrey said. “Yet counties in Ohio continue to bear more of the expense. The state reimbursement rate has averaged 35% over the last 10 years. This fiscal year alone, indigent defense is expected to cost counties $79.5 million.”
“In addition, virtually all counties in Ohio have been affected by the opioid crisis,” Mr. Humphrey said. “This has meant a huge increase in law enforcement costs, court costs, jail costs, mental health costs, treatment costs, not to mention the impact on children and families. Counties are bearing a disproportionate share of this burden.”
The County Commissioners Association of Ohio advances effective county government for Ohio through legislative advocacy, education and training, technical assistance and research, quality enterprise service programs, and greater citizen awareness and understanding of county government.
REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio (Sept. 12, 2018) – The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS) today announced that Monroe Township in Clermont County is free from the invasive Asian longhorned beetle (ALB). This follows the eradication of ALB from Stonelick and Batavia townships in March.
“We are excited to see continued success due to the dedication of our state, federal and local partners in the fight against the Asian longhorned beetle,” said Tim Derickson, assistant director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture. “This is one more important step to rid this pest from Ohio and we will continue to work together to achieve this common goal.”
Derickson was joined by USDA APHIS representatives, as well as community leaders at an announcement ceremony and tree planting in Fair Oak Park, near the quarantined area in Monroe Township. Commissioners Ed Humphrey and David Painter also spoke.
ODA and USDA APHIS will move to lift the quarantine of Monroe Township. The beetle was first discovered in Tate Township in Clermont County in June 2011. ALB quarantines remain in effect for Tate Township, East Fork State Park and portions of the East Fork Wildlife Area.
Residents should remain vigilant and inspect their trees regularly for signs of the beetle. Adult ALBs are large, shiny black insects measuring 1 to 1 ½ inches long, not including antennae, with random white spots. Their white-banded antennae can be as long as the body itself on females and almost twice the body length on males.
Signs of infestation include perfectly round exit holes (about 3/8 to 1/2 inch in diameter) made by adult beetles when they emerge from trees; pockmarks on tree trunks and branches where female beetles deposit eggs; frass (wood shavings and saw dust) produced by larvae feeding and tunneling; early fall coloration of leaves or dead branches; and running sap produced by the tree at the egg laying sites or in response to larval tunneling. The beetle will infest various common trees in Ohio, including all species of maple, buckeye, willow and elm.
To report signs or symptoms of ALB, call the Ohio ALB Eradication Program Office at 513-381-7180 or report online at asianlonghornedbeetle.com.
BATAVIA, Ohio – Clermont County Commissioners today (Aug. 22) approved a 1% increase in the countywide lodging tax. The revenue generated by the increase in the tax, approximately $223,000 a year, will be used to support a new training facility and youth academy for FC Cincinnati in the City of Milford, near Interstate 275 and U.S. 50.
The vote was 2-1. Commissioners Ed Humphrey and David Uible voted in favor; Commissioner David Painter voted against the resolution.
Taxes on hotel-motel rooms in Clermont County will increase from 6% to 7% after Oct. 1. Under an agreement among Clermont County, the City of Milford, and the Clermont County Convention & Visitors Bureau, the revenue generated by the lodging tax would be remitted by the CVB to the City of Milford to repay debt securities of $3.5 million used to help purchase the property.
“I believe that the benefits from this deal far outweigh any tax incentives,” Ed Humphrey, President of the Board of County Commissioners, said after Session. He noted that the City of Milford and the Milford School District were satisfied with their agreements with FC Cincinnati, and also that local police, fire and EMS said the new facility would not strain their resources.
Commissioner David Uible said that “as a businessman, I love this deal. Clermont County incentivizes the City of Milford to buy this property for FC with a 1% lodging tax. This will result in $7 million in additional spending each year … The clear winners are the City of Milford, the county as a whole, and all the citizens who call Clermont County home.”
Commissioner David Painter, who voted against the resolution, said, “I didn’t think the return was high enough to fully represent the stakeholders of Clermont County, who are the citizens of Clermont County.”
The total property purchase price was $5 million, of which Milford is paying $3.5 million and FC Cincinnati is paying $1.5 million. The 1% increase in the countywide lodging tax will “sunset” in 2038 or when the balance in the lodging tax account is sufficient to pay off the debt, whichever occurs first.
The anticipated $30 million soccer complex will be built on 23.6 acres at the former Expressway Park location. FC Cincinnati hopes to complete the training facility by next summer.
A study by Sports Facilities Advisory, a sports management consulting group based in Clearwater, Fla., estimated that the FC complex would generate almost 65,000 visitor days by out-of-town visitors and result in almost $7 million in direct spending annually.
FC Cincinnati, whose owners were recently granted expansion status by Major League Soccer, will also build an estimated $200 million stadium in the West End of Cincinnati, which is expected to be open for the 2021 season. The team currently plays at Nippert Stadium at the University of Cincinnati.
BATAVIA, Ohio – Clermont County Commissioners were joined today by executives from Design Within Reach and Duke Realty to celebrate the groundbreaking of a $17 million distribution facility at South Afton Industrial Park. It is the first property to be developed at South Afton, a 242-acre shovel-ready industrial park in Williamsburg Township owned by the Clermont County CIC with the intent of bringing more jobs to Clermont County.
When Design Within Reach, a furniture and home accessories company, opens its new facility next year, it will employ 85 people with an estimated payroll of $3 million. The facility, at 617,760 square feet, will be the second largest industrial building in Clermont County, second only to the former Ford plant, which was built 37 years ago. The facility will be built by Duke Realty, which purchased 46.83 acres at South Afton on July 9.
South Afton Industrial Park is on SR 32 and Half Acre Road. Executives at Design Within Reach praised the site’s proximity to a number of interstates and its markets in the eastern half of the United States.
“We appreciate the commitment of Duke Realty and Design Within Reach to South Afton,” said Ed Humphrey, President of the Board of County Commissioners, after welcoming guests to the groundbreaking, including Bethany Kemp, Senior Vice President of Operations at DWR, and Dan Colletto, Vice President of Leasing and Development at Duke Realty.
“Commissioners decided to invest in our economic future and purchase the land for the South Afton Industrial Park in 2016,” Commissioner Humphrey said. “Considerable research went into this, research that showed that this could become the home to hundreds of new jobs. We firmly believe that South Afton Industrial Park will spur development in the eastern half of Clermont County. Our investment will pay off for all of Clermont County.”
David Painter, Vice President of the Board of County Commissioners, praised the stakeholders who worked on this project. “Our partners have included Williamsburg Township, the Village of Williamsburg and the Williamsburg Local Schools. This team has made things work,” he said.
“It’s also important to emphasize that our investment has created an environment that is attractive to the private sector,” Commissioner Painter added. “As government, we don’t create jobs, but we can help create an environment that will lead to new jobs. And that is what South Afton is doing.
“As more jobs come here, as more people move into Clermont County, our tax base grows. And that helps our school districts. It helps our townships and villages. It benefits us all.”
Commissioner David Uible noted that in today’s environment, manufacturers and distribution companies expect industrial land to be primed for development.
“The fact is, manufacturing and distribution companies looking to expand want to come to turn-key industrial parks. They want the utility, water, sewer and fiber infrastructure already in place. They want the environmental studies completed and complied with. And if Clermont County isn’t prepared to offer them a site that checks all these boxes, they will find another county that is ready to do that,” he said.
“Before we made this decision, we commissioned a study from the University of Cincinnati,” Mr. Uible added. “The study concluded that over time, South Afton might lead to 1,800 jobs, and offer a tremendous multiplier effect to the economy. We’re confident that our investment will pay off over time, with hundreds of new jobs at South Afton. ”
About South Afton Industrial Park: A 242-acre industrial park at the southeastern corner of State Route 32 and Half Acre Road in Williamsburg Township. The land was purchased by the Clermont County CIC (Community Improvement Corporation) in February 2016 for $4.9 million, using proceeds from the Ivy Pointe development in Union Township. The CIC has invested $2.7 million in infrastructure at South Afton. An economic impact study by the Economics Center of the University of Cincinnati estimated that the industrial park would eventually create more than 1,800 direct jobs and more than 1,600 indirect jobs. Read more here: www.southafton.com.
About Design Within Reach: Design Within Reach, Inc., founded in 1998 and headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, sells its furniture and accessories to residential and commercial customers. It is a subsidiary of Herman Miller, Inc. More information can be found here: http://www.dwr.com.
About Duke Realty: In the Cincinnati metro area, Duke Realty owns, manages, or has under development nearly 10 million square feet of industrial properties. Nationally, Duke Realty Corp. owns and operates 150 million rentable square feet of industrial assets in 20 key U.S. logistics markets. Duke Realty is publicly traded on the NYSE under the symbol DRE and is listed on the S&P 500. More information about Duke Realty Corporation is available at www.dukerealty.com.
For more information on South Afton Industrial Park and this project, contact Adele Evans, firstname.lastname@example.org, 513.732.7912.
Duke Realty contact: Helen McCarthy, Helen.Mccarthy@dukerealty.com, 317.708.8010.