Cincinnati Enquirer’s Sheila McLaughlin reports:
Butler County Commissioner Chuck Furmon wants to hold onto his seat. But a state representative who is losing his Columbus job to term limits and a local home builder/real estate agent want to pull it out from under him in March.
Furmon, a former Hamilton mayor who has served as a county commissioner since 1996, faces a challenge from State Rep. Courtney Combs and political newcomer T.C. Rogers on the Republican primary ballot.
Combs, who represents the 54th District, has to give up that seat after five terms in office. He served as a commissioner for 17 years before heading to the State Capitol in 2004 in a job switch with then-State Rep. Greg Jolivette. The move, orchestrated by the Butler County GOP, was aimed at heading off a contentious Republican primary.
A fractured local GOP didn’t endorse any of the candidates for the primary race for county commissioner.
Rogers has been critical of Furmon’s performance as a commissioner, saying there is a “mountain of reckless spending” in Butler County government.
Furmon and his colleagues on commission have trimmed 350 positions from county government and reduced the general fund budget by about 17 percent, from $95 million to $79 million.
Bringing development to Butler County to create jobs is a common theme for Combs and Furmon. Both helped orchestrate the $500 million Liberty Town Square retail development by Steiner + Associates which is being planned at Liberty Way and Interstate 75 in Liberty Township.
Furmon and fellow commissioners recently approved a memorandum of understanding, agreeing for the county to contribute 60 percent of the costs of public infrastructure costs, which will amount to about $30 million in tax increment financing proceeds.
Combs, as a state representative, introduced successful legislation that established a special authority to own parking garages and other infrastructure improvements at the development, so the county won’t be financially responsible for maintenance.
The project, touted to be similar to Easton Town Square in Columbus, is expected to bring about 3,200 construction jobs to the county and employ about 4,600 people in permanent jobs when the development opens. It also will generate more than $1.5 million in new sales taxes for the county, according to Steiner officials.