Heart and Hustle in Hamilton County

Wrapping Up 2022, The Penultimate Edition!

December 22, 2022 Bridget Doherty Season 2 Episode 13
Wrapping Up 2022, The Penultimate Edition!
Heart and Hustle in Hamilton County
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Heart and Hustle in Hamilton County
Wrapping Up 2022, The Penultimate Edition!
Dec 22, 2022 Season 2 Episode 13
Bridget Doherty

Hamilton County Administrator Jeff Aluotto talks about the County's biggest achievements in 2022 with some of his top operations staff. Human Resources Director Frank Spataro, Senior Policy Manager Marc Von Allmen and Assistant County Administrators Holly Christmann and Lisa Webb take the mic to discuss some of their favorite projects in 2022 and what they have to look forward to in 2023. Hamilton County continues to launch new programs that improve lives of our residents, our businesses, and our employees. This is the penultimate edition of Heart and Hustle in Hamilton County (the final episode for 2022 was canceled so we could use the word-of-the-day “penultimate” in the podcast).

To learn more about Hamilton County, Ohio, our services and job openings, visit hamiltoncountyohio.gov.

Show Notes Transcript

Hamilton County Administrator Jeff Aluotto talks about the County's biggest achievements in 2022 with some of his top operations staff. Human Resources Director Frank Spataro, Senior Policy Manager Marc Von Allmen and Assistant County Administrators Holly Christmann and Lisa Webb take the mic to discuss some of their favorite projects in 2022 and what they have to look forward to in 2023. Hamilton County continues to launch new programs that improve lives of our residents, our businesses, and our employees. This is the penultimate edition of Heart and Hustle in Hamilton County (the final episode for 2022 was canceled so we could use the word-of-the-day “penultimate” in the podcast).

To learn more about Hamilton County, Ohio, our services and job openings, visit hamiltoncountyohio.gov.

Jeff Aluotto:

Welcome to heart and hustle in Hamilton County a podcast entirely dedicated to the people and policies that form Hamilton County government in Ohio. This is the holiday version of our podcast. I'm here with my co host Bridget Doherty as always, hello, hello, hello, happy holidays. And for those of you tuning in for the first time, why the name heart and hustle Well, best describes the public servants who make our local government work. Each of our episodes focuses on creative solutions to the challenges our 49 communities face, as well as how our different county departments tackle those challenges. It's a local government 101. For listeners who are curious and want to learn more. I'm your host, Jeff Aluotto County Administrator. And as I've already said with me is my co host, and I'll introduce some other guests that we have. We're happy holidays, and also happy new year coming up. This is our last podcast of 2022. I'm not even sure how many podcasts we did in 2022. But I'm not sure either. But more to the point. This is our penultimate episode, but we're canceling the last one. So penultimate episode, but we're canceling the last one. There you go. All right. So again, this is our holiday edition. And it's gonna be our 2020 To recap edition. I'm really excited about this particular edition of heart and hustle. It's been a busy year in Hamilton County, we've done a lot of things. We've gotten a ton of grant money out into the community. We've seen infrastructure projects come up and out of the ground, we've addressed some of our most time, timely personnel issues. We've been working on projects like consolidating or 911 and Ema facilities, just a lot of things happening. I wish that I could actually sit down with each Hamilton County resident and tell them directly what the county government this year has been doing on their behalf. But seeing that I'm not Santa Claus. Bridgette, I don't have the time. I can't make that kind of time throughout the community. I've done the very next best thing. What's that, Jeff? I have corralled as, as many as I can of the county's top leadership team to help describe for county residents who are listening to this podcast, some of the best things that have happened in 2022, and maybe more importantly, what they are looking forward to as we go into 2023 the county's top brass County's top brass, absent a couple who couldn't make it. Okay. So with that, I just want to do a few introductions here with us here today in no particular order. But we've got an all star cast, and around the table today. So we have Holly Chrisman, our assistant administrator who oversees many of our county departments, especially those with a development and infrastructure focus. Holly, welcome.

Unknown:

Thank you. Happy holidays, everyone.

Jeff Aluotto:

We have Lisa Webb, also assistant administrator who oversees all of our voted levies for the county and who also coordinates the connectivity between our criminal justice operations and various social services like mental health and addiction response. Lisa, welcome to the program. Thank you, Jeff. We have of course as always, Bridget Doherty, my co host who does all the communications work for, for Hamilton County, Bridgette, and also

Bridget Doherty:

the important job of muting and unmuting mics which you will hear later on in this episode is not a perfect science.

Jeff Aluotto:

So okay, it's all right. It's the penultimate holiday episode. So anything goes today. We have friends Mataro, our director of human resources. So all the work that's done whether it is compensation benefits, risk management, recruitment, HR development for all the employees under the Board of County Commissioners, Frank Spataro brings that to us. So Frank, welcome.

Unknown:

Thank you, Jeff. And happy holidays everyone.

Jeff Aluotto:

And last but not least, we have Mark Vaughn almond mark is our Senior Policy Manager for economic development, who single handedly oversees many of our economic development programs in the county with a focus on revitalizing the first ring suburban communities. So Mark is here with us to talk about some of our economic development programming this year. Mark, welcome.

Unknown:

Hello, Hamilton County. Jeff, thrilled to be on this penultimate episode. Thanks for having me.

Jeff Aluotto:

Awesome. And I'm happy to have you here, Mark. So we may have a couple of other guests Join us as we go throughout the throughout the podcast today. But really, what we wanted to do today was just do a year in review. So what were some of the top things that happened this year? And where do some of the what are some of the things that the county's top leadership team looks at as being major art opportunities are things that they're looking forward to in 2023. I think we have a great year in front of us. The board will be kicking off again in early January, I think we had a great year and 2022 all starts with, with guidance and policy guidance from the board. We got some great guidance this past year that allowed us to do some really neat things I mentioned some of them at the top of the of the podcast, but at the end of the day, the work happens, where this team comes into play in terms of implementing policies and programs that ultimately affect the lives of our Hamilton County residents. So with that, we're gonna get right into this. And we're gonna go to HR director Frank Spataro, Frank. Again, the assignment was simply something that you're extremely proud of that you thought when really well on behalf of the residents in Hamilton of Hamilton County in 2022. And what you're looking forward to most in 2023.

Unknown:

Thanks, Jeff. We had a busy year in 2022, with our focus being on being recognized as an employer of choice. One of the things that I'm really excited about is the investment we've made in employee development. And we did that by reintroducing our tuition reimbursement program. And then also to supplement that we've entered into for collaborative agreements with local colleges and universities to provide tuition discounts to our employees, with UC Xavier, Eastern Kentucky University and Western Governors in those schools have agreed to offer our employees discounts ranging from 10 to 25%, on their tuition, so I think that's going to be well received, we have some experience with tuition reimbursement that we introduced over the past summer. And it's proven to be really popular with with our employees. One of the big accomplishments in 2022 was the completion and implementation of a comp compensation study that for which we looked at the salaries of our employees and market data in the surrounding areas and comparable employers, and made a number of adjustments to help us with our traction and retention of employees. That's, that's really tough. We're in a tough market right now competing with local employers. And this has been a real help to us to upgrade and update our salary and salaries for employees. And then, one of the things we did back in June as we had a job fair, and it was widely attended, we had great attendance, we filled in a number of vacancies, and more of not more importantly, but importantly, it allowed us to showcase employment where the county showcased our benefit package, and different employment opportunities. It was well received, and we plan to make it an annual event. So that we can continue to be working on our image and the efforts we make is being an employer of choice. With regard to 2023, one of the things that I'm really interested in focusing on is keeping our attention on our diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. In 2022, we actually made some rather significant gains in our diversity. And our mindset is to focus on the equity and inclusion portion of the triad there to give our managers the tools and resources to work on improving and in some cases, really even understanding what equity and inclusion is so that they can be mindful of how they apply those in their everyday decision making. And then lastly, for 2023, we're looking at again, in the spirit of being an employer of choice, some affordable benefit enhancements that include childcare and parking assistance. So if those are going to be our focus for 2023

Jeff Aluotto:

That's fantastic, Frank. It's a huge it's a great list of accomplishments, a great list of things to look forward to. And for those of you who are listening to the podcast again, Hamilton County is hiring. We're hiring. The best and brightest in Hamilton County, as we say to every person that we onboard under the Board of County Commissioners. We know there's a lot of job opportunities out there right now for people it's very tough labor market. But as people look at Hamilton County as they grow up in Hamilton County, there's a lot of worthwhile things. You can do a lot of worthwhile organizations where you can go to get a job when You want people to think I want to, if I'm going to stay in Hamilton County, I'm going to come back to Hamilton County, and I'm going to work for Hamilton County, because not only do I have the opportunity to do great things, which we're going to be hearing about some more of that here just in a second. But also, the county treats their employees well, and so thank you, Frank, and 2022, for all that you've done to help us toward that goal.

Bridget Doherty:

So I just think with Frank, we should have had him on his own podcast probably in 2022. Because you guys have been so incredibly busy this past year. And clearly, that's where a lot of the budget focuses is it. And I feel like your team has been incredibly busy. So thank you, you've got a great team. And you guys have done a lot of good work. Thanks a lot.

Jeff Aluotto:

Thank you, Frank. Next, we're going to go to Assistant Administrator Lisa Webb, to talk about some of the accomplishments in whether it is levy implementation, criminal justice, social services, a lot of great stuff has happened, especially as it relates to connecting some of those things in 2022. So Lisa, again, the the challenge was something that you are really proud of for 2022 and something you're really looking forward to and 23.

Unknown:

Yeah, thanks, Jeff. To start, I would say 2022 is a very big year in Hamilton County for county property tax levies. It is the one year every five years with three levies on the ballot. This year, County taxpayers overwhelmingly approved levies for senior services, indigent care and mental expanded services for mental health that levy was an increase, given the situation in mental health, not just in Hamilton County, but throughout Ohio and throughout the country, that we'll be able to use it to put more dollars towards access to care and care for individuals in our community. That is a six month process with the county tax levy review committee. It's nine independent county individuals that are appointed by the commissioners that oversee the review of each of these levies over six months with public hearings before commissioners make that final determination on levy sizing. In addition, 2022 saw the start of the nationwide opiate settlements and the funding dollars coming through with that. The start of that was the creation of the one Ohio region two board which is going to funnel millions of dollars into Hamilton County to support addiction response. We set up the we set up the 22 member board for that and with a variety of cross section of people from throughout the county commissioners, city council members, village mayor's township trustees, small city mayors, as well as people in the community education mental health treatment community, the business community and the faith community all coming together to make recommendations on the best needs the best ways to serve as needs in Hamilton County for our residents. So we've gotten started with that excited for 2023. When the initial funding and grant applications will come forward with that we'll definitely keep everyone informed and connected as that moves forward. as well. The Office of addiction response the newly created office re applied for and received over $6 million in grants towards addiction response issues, over 2 million for the expansion of the drug treatment and recovery court and coordinate nation with Judge Sanders their expanded Quick Response Team outreach efforts in the community as well as funding towards prevention services for as at risk youth in schools, and expansion of the Justice centers, medication assisted treatment program. Those are all taking place and awarded recently and kicking off end of this year into next year. So it's a pretty exciting time in terms of opportunities to help the opioid crisis here in Hamilton County 2023 I'm really looking forward to that grant process coming together for one Ohio. As I said, when that comes through, there'll be a lot of discussion in the community about it trying to make sure we're setting we're casting as wide a net as possible and making sure everyone is aware of those grants and opportunities as they come together. In addition, 2023 is a fun year for the levy reviews because the zoo levy is up for renewal. So encourage people to renew their zoo passes and get out there not just for the Festival of Lights this time of year, but the rest of the year and go and see Fiona.

Jeff Aluotto:

Awesome, Lisa, thanks so much. And thanks for all the work that you've done this year. Just to think back five, seven years ago to think about the amount of resources that we have funneled into this community right now for things like mental health and addiction response, things that have been really a plague in our community that that you just again go back a few years and there was no real sense of understanding as to how people are suffering with these With the disease of addiction, the disease of mental health, and we have an opportunity to do some things now in Hamilton County to really make a real difference on that. And you're leading that charge. And thanks for all of your efforts in coordinating those efforts and linking those efforts together, especially as they have touch points with the judicial system, the criminal justice system, to make sure that we are giving people in this community a second chance and giving them the resources they need to succeed as people in the community. So thank you for that.

Unknown:

I think one of the one of the strong pieces on that, too, is that collaboration that Hamilton County has with the addiction response coalition, bringing together all of those not just departments, agencies and community, community providers together at the table to look at addiction and how we attack it comprehensively in the community.

Jeff Aluotto:

Absolutely. Thank you, Lisa. So I was initially going to go to Mark Phenomenex, but I think it'd be we have some equipment stuff that has to go on here first. So I don't know, Mark, if you want to pick up down there. In the meantime, we're gonna go to Assistant Administrator Holly Chrisman, Holly, I, unfortunately, I don't think you've been all that busy this year. Not at all. But But But why don't you just tell us what you have been up to this year. So anything that stands out, and something that you're looking really looking forward to next year?

Unknown:

Well, I have to say, I stretched the assignment a little bit. So instead of picking one thing, I picked a category that has several things underneath it.

Jeff Aluotto:

So the eye rolls across the table are palpable over the podcast, but no, excellent, holistically,

Unknown:

because there is so much I think, great stuff that we've done over the past year. And so my heading is how we have helped our residents. And we have done that through literally helping 1000s of people get rent, mortgage and utility assistance through the great work of job and family services. We've done that by helping residents improve our air quality by getting rebates for electric electric mowers, which was so successful, we're getting more money next year to do that. We continue to provide no cost COVID testing for the public to help reduce the costs for people to help mitigate COVID. We've had record number of building permits that our building staff put to have have issued, including 321 new residential permits, which is we know housing is so important right now. And speaking of housing, we've deployed funding 1.1 million for new affordable housing to help facilitate 58 new units. And I think the last thing I want to mention is our critical function of 911. Our 911 employees, we've had two employees who helped deliver babies this year, we had a dispatcher, a dispatcher, receive trainer of the year, and we've had a dispatcher who had a non breather call and help save their life. And he was able to meet that person over the past year. I could go on and on, of course about all of our great employees. But I think those I think distill all the great work we've done for our residents in Hamilton County, and we hope they stay in our county. Oh, and for 2023, I would say the thing I'm most excited about is deploying the 33 and a half million dollars in affordable housing that the board just approved last week. And because I can't Just name one, I will also say getting the new 911 facility up and running will be an exciting challenge for us next year.

Jeff Aluotto:

That's fantastic. Holly, thank you, and truly an incredibly busy year for you. So thanks for all of your efforts, everything that you've done and what I really liked about what you said there was really focusing on the day to day, nitty gritty work that county employees do because again, I think if people could see what the employees of this county are doing on their behalf every single day, I think they would be really impressed by it. And you mentioned a couple of them 911 The permitting system, but we have employees out there who are operating the jail who are running election systems who are helping people with addiction, mental health issues, people who are focusing on revitalizing our communities and getting the communities throughout Hamilton County, improvements in infrastructure, etc. And that's going to be a good segue into our next guest who is marked von Allman or a Senior Policy Manager. Mark, things you're really excited about in terms of that we've got done in 2022 and that you're excited about for 23

Unknown:

Thanks, Jeff. I just want to say I was ready to follow all of the rules that you set for for this podcast, but everyone's stretching the rules. So I think I'm gonna do it a little bit as well. So 2022 I think the county was a A very positive and a more active force in driving revitalization throughout the cities, villages and townships and Hamilton County. And one of probably our main tool, and doing so has been the community revitalization grants. So here's the stretching part. We technically launched that in 2021. But I think the vast majority of that round were approved in 2022. So we essentially had two rounds of community revitalization grants in 2022, at 17 projects, 11 communities $4.5 million, and a wide variety of projects. But as interesting as it was to get closer, okay, sorry about that. As interesting was as important as it was to, for the county to budget that money, what the real neat part has been, is just seeing the number of communities that as soon as that money was budgeted, they're ready to step up and essentially punch above their weight class and really tackle business district revitalization in a very active way. So for example, the city of chivvied Acquiring a building smack dab in the build in the middle of their business district and going out there and trying to find people to activate that for some sort of vibrant space in the middle of their downtown or village of North Bend, kind of following their dreams and trying to establish kind of a regional draw of riverfront park right there. On the banks of Ohio and North Bend. I could name them much more. But it was great that the county was able to set aside establish these funds. And it's great that we're able to work with our partners in these new ways and that they're ready to step up right away and, and really capitalize on these community revitalization grants. So that was that was probably my highlight of 2022. As far as looking forward, I think it's going to be a big year for the county site Readiness Program, which was established before I got here. And but as far as that the previous sites that we've been working on that Drake and carousel site, there's going to be demolition on that site. And getting it ready for jobs in the future. The Dow site and reading there's going to be demolition work starting there. Hopefully we can get something going at the Gibson site and Amberley as well, in addition to the site readiness, again, be ingredient saying two things are those community revitalization grants, we're going to do it all over again $3 million again. But what I'm looking forward to is kind of now that we've got up and running just more strategic tracking program results and changing it in a way so that we can make sure that sure we're setting aside this monies for for cities and townships and villages, but we're getting the biggest bang for our dollar moving forward like number of jobs per dollar invested or number of commercial space brought online. So kind of continuing to tweak and formalize that program moving forward as wonky as that sounds, but that's what I'm looking forward to in 2023.

Jeff Aluotto:

Now, it's fantastic, Mark, thank you. And thanks for all of your efforts as a part of this leadership team to make sure that the board's vision of a revitalized Hamilton County comes to fruition. Hamilton County has invested a huge amount over the past couple of years in revitalizing its first ring suburban communities and making sure that we have tracts of land in this community available for redevelopment or a site readiness program. And you've run point on that since you've been here. So thank you very much for that. Appreciate it. All right, Bridget. I'm gonna throw it. We didn't really talk about your my co host. I don't know this is really fair, but I'm just going to throw it out to you anything that you wanted to hit on. Besides, I know you got some brand spanking new equipment that you're working on. Thankful to for that. Yeah. And

Bridget Doherty:

so far, I'm thankful that there are no edits happening in this podcast so far. But am I on the jingle bells? No, I think last year was actually this year. 2022 was a great year, especially for the employees, I got to help the employee advisory committee, which is a group of employees from each of the departments that kind of weigh in on things that the employees would like to see around Hamilton County, and we put on it was the first time that I think that the board and administration had ever done something like this, but we did an employee appreciation lunch and you know, we we had some food trucks. We the city of Cincinnati helped us close down Court Street and it was the first time we kind of showed some appreciation in that manner to employees. And I know because of how many people came up to us and I'm sure all of you just how appreciative the employees were. I mean, there's just something totally different that they weren't expecting. And I think that I saw a lot I saw a lot of hugs and people are getting together for the first time. And I think that's what was neat. You did especially coming in at COVID. You saw a lot of just camaraderie and just appreciation of being together. It was a little chilly, but it was a really great day. So I'm really proud of that event. I thought it was fun.

Jeff Aluotto:

Awesome. No, and thanks for your personal dedication to pulling that together, Bridget, for those of you listening to the podcast, Bridget is the glue that kind of holds our floor and our leadership team together. I remember when you were working somewhere else. And I said every office needs a bridge authority in it. So we're going to go out and get her back. And we did we were successful in that. So thank you for being here. Thanks for all that you do to drive the work of the county and specifically of this team.

Bridget Doherty:

Thanks, Steph. And then next year, I'm really looking forward to our next episode. We might have one in between there. But we know can we tease it? You can absolutely tease it. We know next year we're going to electrocute fish as part of our episode, which I didn't know the county did. But that's why we have this podcast. Evidently

Jeff Aluotto:

we do it routinely. And we are proud of

Bridget Doherty:

it. And it's You mean yes. Yeah. Yeah. So we're electric eating fish for science.

Jeff Aluotto:

We're going to do it on we're going to do it on site. As much as we can see by your face that that's not entirely possible gonna

Bridget Doherty:

do Okay, we're gonna have natural, natural sounds of the stream and the fish and electrocution.

Jeff Aluotto:

It's going to it's going to be it's going to be awesome. So I want to thank everybody here today. I also want to give a special shout out and thanks to JFS director, Michael Patten to Assistant Administrator for Budget and Finance, John Bergen, both of them can be here for very good reasons. So I want to wish them the happiest of holidays. And I just want to say on a personal note, that I am thankful in 2022, that I've had the opportunity to work with just a such a fantastic and incredible group of professionals who do so much work day in and day out on behalf of Hamilton County and its residents, and all every single day of the amount of work that this that this group does. So I want to thank each and every one of you for everything that you've done this year. I want to thank all the employees of the county as well, especially Holly mentioned, as well, folks in 911 folks in the sheriff's deputies, corrections officers, JFS, the folks in 241, kids are the social workers, keeping our our children safe, especially all of those that will be working over the holidays, want to thank them for all their work day in and day out. There is a thing called the Athenian oath, which says that we will leave the community not only not less, but greater and more beautiful than it was given to us. And I think everyone around this table today, exemplifies that perfectly as do the employees of Hamilton County. So with that, I want to thank you for listening to the holiday penultimate edition of heart and hustle in Hamilton County. Be sure to subscribe on Apple podcast, Spotify and other providers. And you can find the podcast on our website, Hamilton County ohio.gov on my web page. Thank you, everyone, and we'll see you in 2023