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Carroll County Fiscal Court voted Tuesday, Jan. 28, to join with 14 other counties along the Ohio River to expand the marketing area for the Port of Greater Cincinnati.
The port district would grow from its current 20-mile stretch to more than 200 miles, which could place the region in the top 10 ports in the United States in reporting data complied by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
It’s the third time the issue has come before fiscal court where magistrates have expressed concern that the resolution could open the door to other port authorities levying taxes or controlling issues here.
Representatives of the Northern Kentucky Port Authority, the Port of Greater Cincinnati and the Central Ohio River Business Association came to Tuesday’s meeting to explain the resolution, answer questions and allay fears.
Daniel Tobergte, secretary-treasurer of the Northern Kentucky Port Authority, said the idea of expanding the statistical reporting area of what is now the Port of Cincinnati grew out requests from the private sector. The port now ranks 51st in size and would move up to somewhere between ninth and 12th with the new statistical reporting area spanning from Trimble County and the Port of Huntington.
“I can’t see any benefit of endorsing this for Carrollton,” District 2 Magistrate Dean Miller said. He has previously expressed concern that the resolution would open the county’s operations to outside control or taxation.
But Judge-Executive Harold “Shorty” Tomlinson said it does not hand over any authority, instead it ties the county to a larger port district for statistical reporting. He said he takes responsibility for not being able to answer questions or better explain the port marketing concept for fiscal court.
Melissa Johnson, director of real estate and logistics with the Port of Greater Cincinnati, said the advantage comes with how the Army Corps of Engineers reports on ports. Carroll County is currently not reporting as part of a port, meaning the numbers are simply reported and show up as material shipped from Kentucky.
By participating in the port area with Cincinnati, Carroll County can market the fact is part of one of the nation’s largest ports that handles more than 50 million tons of cargo a year.
Eric Thomas, who represents Central Ohio River Business Association, said this collaboration is important to industry because it aids in their marketing efforts. He said CORBA acts as a type of chamber of commerce for the Ohio River.
Thomas said Kentucky has the longest stretch of the Ohio River touching its borders, but only has one port at Louisville that reports what is shipped.
“Let’s join those forces together,” he said.
The name for the reporting district has not yet been determined, but will be tied down as part of the application process with the Corps of Engineers, the officials said.
Miller wanted to know who would be the party to ask questions on the marketing effort this since no new organization is being created by the re-designation.
Thomas said it would likely be CORBA, but he said both the ports of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky are also key players because they have dedicated their resources to help with the application process and making contact with all of the communities involved.
The port officials asked fiscal court to act Tuesday because they are facing a deadline of Jan. 31 have the commitments to participate in the port district for the application that the Corps of Engineers will review.
Johnson told members of Carroll’s fiscal court that Trimble County’s participation in the port district is contingent on Carroll County’s decision because it cannot jump over a locality. Trimble County Fiscal Court only recently approved its participation.
Miller said Trimble wasn’t originally in the documents he had receives. “It seems like you put them on here to be pressuring us into it,” he said.
Johnson said they originally wanted to include Trimble County but were told by the Corps of Engineers they couldn’t because it is tied to the Louisville market area. However, after learning about the Port of Cincinnati plan, officials from Trimble County contacted them and wanted to be part of it, she said. Trimble County received special approval to add its area on to the port district from officials with the Corps of Engineers.
Miller said he would like to see a sentence added to the resolution. “This re-designation is for statistical data-gathering purposes and does not impact the governance of any existing or future port authority,” his addition stated.
Tomlinson said he had told magistrates they were welcome to make such changes during previous discussions on the resolution.
With that addition, the resolution to participate in the port district won approval 4-0 with no opposition.
County to pursue second grant for trails
With work complete on the first phase of the county’s Park to Park Trails project, Tomlinson said fiscal court needs to decide how to approach the next phase of the project.
The trail currently runs from the archery range at General Butler State Resort Park to the Sonic on Jay Louden Road, but fell short of linking it with the Robert Westrick County Park. It also did not link up with Lock No. 1.
Magistrates decided to pursue grant funding for both sections.
Magistrate Dean Miller said he just wants to be sure that work at the lock doesn’t stop the county’s program. Magistrate Mark Bates said he would also like to see the trail link to Camp Kysoc. They agreed this could be added a future phase of the project.
Carroll County Community Development Corporation Executive Director Robert Yoder said he will begin working on the application that is due March 8.
County hopes to offer tire amnesty program
Tomlinson said it appears Carroll County will be part of a June program that collects waste tires for disposal, at no cost to the locality. “This is a good opportunity for us,” he said. Tomlinson said he knows of close to 1,000 tires that should be disposed of because they were brought here for storage or dumped in the county. He said he will continue to pursue this program with hopes the county will have the chance to participate this year.
Bid received for new cardiac monitor
Carroll County Fiscal Court approved a motion to allow Emergency Management Director Ed Webb to review a bid for a cardiac monitor and accept it if it meets the county’s criteria. The lone bid came from Physio Control for $30,287.06. Webb said the funds for the purchase are part of a homeland security grant the county received. Webb took the materials to review.