19 May Cincinnati Parks’ Response to Sewer Bill Article
On March 31, 2004, City Council passed an Ordinance (#120-2004) to fund stormwater management in Cincinnati Parks; specifically, “cleaning stormwater inlets and maintain streambeds on Park Board property.” (See attached).
The Cincinnati Park system comprises 10% of the City’s land acreage. The decision was made in 2004 by City Council and the City Administration that the Park Board should receive $225,000 in their budget to mitigate stormwater, and employ 6.0 fulltime equivalent staff to assist in these efforts. The City’s Stormwater program receives approximately $9 million in revenue annually to manage all city properties, including park property. The 10% approved by City Council to fund Parks has not changed over the course of the agreement, and is reflective of what is collected through the City’s stormwater charges annually. Parks currently receives approximately $870,000 annually towards stormwater mitigation. This money is used to support salaries of park maintenance workers.
Attached is a spreadsheet that lists each park, the amount of stormwater abated by natural park features, and the estimated cost to control the stormwater with traditional gray infrastructure.
Memorandum of Understanding
The Cincinnati Park Board received a request from the Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) to assist them in meeting the requirements of their Federal Consent Decree regarding stormwater management. Specifically, the Parks Department was asked to partner with MSD on green infrastructure mitigation and watershed management.
All aspects of the project outlined in the attached Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) page 2; including design, budget, and implementation was approved by both MSD and the Parks Department before going forward. The budget guidelines, as outline in the attached MOU; page 14, was strictly adhered to and never misused in any way.
In addition, Park staff researched and solely took the initiative to research grant opportunities and was successful in securing $250,000 in funding to support two projects, and leveraged hundreds of volunteer hours in assistance!
Last, the allegations of Park staff receiving monies to cover “annual salaries,” and “park supervisors and executives” receiving monies are all within the MOU; page 14. The payment was in association with work performed by Park staff. The billing for these services was followed strictly as outlined in the agreement. No Park staff was reimbursed for work not associated with the project. Annual reports for the years that parks provided services under the MOU are attached. The reports list projects, successes, grants, and leverages such as volunteers.