Hamilton port authority creation could happen in the next several weeks

Mar. 7—A few votes need to happen before a city-focused port authority and development finance agency can be created, and once it is, Hamilton should have a new city manager.

The formation of the Hamilton Development Finance Agency (DFA) requires a three-party joinder agreement ― a contract that adds a new party to an existing contract ― with approvals from Hamilton City Council, Butler County Commission and Butler County Finance Authority (BCFA). The collective approvals would then authorize the creation of the Hamilton DFA.

Butler County Commission Vice President Don Dixon said it could take a "couple more weeks" before the board entertains a resolution approving a joinder agreement as they are "working out a couple of issues." They have meetings over the next three Mondays (March 11, 18 and 25). The BCFA meets next on March 19.

City Manager Joshua Smith said it's likely Hamilton Council would entertain a first reading of the legislation on Wednesday, and then call for a vote following a second reading on March 27.

If the timeline follows as expected, Hamilton Council could consider further legislation in April to seat a board of directors and formally create the Hamilton DFA.

The process to create the Hamilton DFA formally began in November, when it was first publicly discussed. Smith told the Journal-News then that this was the next logical step for the city as it continued to progress.

"The city's been doing well in recent years, but we don't want to take anything for granted," he had said.

The Hamilton DFA would be a dual economic development entity for the city, as it would operate as both a port authority and development finance agency, singularly functioning as two complementary entities. A port authority can perform various activities, like supporting economic development or promoting community improvements, while a DFA specializes on the finance side, obtaining capital that might not otherwise be available.

The BCFA unanimously voted last month to hire Smith as its new executive director, which is pending the creation of the Hamilton DFA.

While the initial plan was for Smith to lead the Hamilton DFA, the opportunity was presented to have the Hamilton city manager take over the BCFA. The Hamilton DFA would be a managed entity under the BCFA but would operate independently with its own staff person, board of directors and budget. Smith would provide strategic oversight for the Hamilton DFA.

Once the Hamilton DFA is formed, Smith told the Journal-News he would step down on April 5 as city manager, a position he's held since Sept. 7, 2010. Hamilton Mayor Pat Moeller previously said they'll promote someone already with the city to succeed Smith.