Todd Portune: A Unique Vision for the Region’s Transit
Please join ULI Cincinnati in welcoming President of the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners Todd Portune as he presents: A Unique Vision for the Region’s Transit.
Situated at the confluence of several transportation corridors (river, rail, vehicular, and air), the greater Cincinnati region has many opportunities for growth; however, important decisions on infrastructure needs and transit priorities will need to be made in the near further. These decisions will impact the economic success of the region for many years to come.
From the Brent Spence Bridge and Western Hills Viaduct replacements to important decisions at SORTA and on the expansion of the streetcar, the region is at a crossroads. As our region traverses these issues and sets its direction, a coalition for success must be generated for the region as a whole.
Commissioner Portune will address current transportation needs, layout his top priorities and share his unique vision for the future. As an eight (8) year Cincinnati Council Member and current sixteen (16) year Hamilton County Commissioner, inlcuding lead roles at the Transportation Improvement District and Ohio Kentucky Indiana Regional Council of Governments, he has helped steer transportation policy for almost a quarter century.
Please join Commissioner Portune and ULI Cincinnati on May 23, 2017 for this unique and insightful breakfast event.
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Commissioner Todd Portune was elected to the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners on November 2, 2000, after having served eight years on the Cincinnati City Council. Commissioner Portune has been re-elected four times and is currently serving his fifth term.
Commissioner Portune currently serves as President of the Board of County Commissioners, is a Member on the Board of Directors of the Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana (OKI) Regional Council of Governments and is continuing his leadership on transportation issues as Chair of the Hamilton County Transportation Improvement District. He is a Chair of the County’s Emergency Management Agency Executive Committee, and he chaired the County Homeland Security Commission. He is a member of the Hamilton County Investment Advisory Board. Commissioner Portune also Chairs the following: Hamilton County Board of Revision; Hamilton County Records Commission; Hamilton County Solid Waste Management District Policy Committee and is co-chair of City-County Shared Services Committee. He has also served as President of the Hamilton County Family and Children First Council and was Chair for 12 years of the county Solid Waste Management District Policy Committee.
Commissioner Portune served as President of the Board of Hamilton County Commissioners on two separate occasions spanning three years – first from 2007 through December 31, 2008 and again in 2010 from June through December.
While President of the Board, Commissioner Portune spearheaded a county agenda focused on fiscal discipline, economic development and strategic and prudent transportation enhancements. In order to meet serious budget challenges brought on by the recession, Portune introduced zero based budget principles, mandates reviews, and aggressively pursued shared services and government reforms. Portune’s budget and government reforms lead to a reduction in the size of county government by 25% while the county maintained its full menu of services. Despite a 30% drop in revenues, the county has annually balanced its budgets, improved its reserves and strengthened its financial picture.
Portune’s growth agenda for the county focused on sound land use planning, regional transportation enhancements and strategic economic development investments. At his lead, the promise of The Banks riverfront redevelopment project gained new life with a development agreement being struck within months of Portune taking the helm as President of the Board of County Commissioners [compared to a decade of delay under others]. The Banks is an unequivocal success, with 100% of the new housing occupied, virtually all retail and commercial space in operation and Phase II underway.
Portune proposed the creation of a Land bank for the county with a reformed Port Authority at the helm. As President he successfully renegotiated a reformed Port Authority and his proposed Land Bank has now been enacted into law. With funding sources identified by or proposed under Portune coming into play, the Port and the Land Bank are commencing the redevelopment of blighted and abandoned properties all over Hamilton County for large and small scale commercial development and new residential construction. Portune’s Home Improvement Program has leveraged over $40 million in new private investment fixing up the aging housing stock of the county with 75% of the improved properties benefitting middle class homeowners and over 2,500 local contractors receiving jobs.
Portune led the reformation of the local transit authority, converting it into a regional entity focusing on multi-modal transportation service. In his many lead roles at the TID and at OKI, Portune is leading a regional transportation agenda that will introduce commuter rail options to area residents, will put the already constructed Transit Center to use, and will provide for transportation corridor improvements for people and freight that are generating transit oriented economic development projects along all of the region’s transit corridors- highway, rail and river.
Portune has led the way for improvements in public health, public safety and the environment – all the while emphasizing the potential in each for growing Hamilton County. As previous Chair of the County Solid Waste Policy Committee, the county aggressively reduced the impact on landfills; increased recycling options for residential and commercial customers alike, and pursued new environmental initiatives that still today are reducing energy consumption and the county’s carbon footprint, while increasing business and individual spending power and creating jobs.
As Emergency Management and Homeland Security Chair, Portune introduced a process that secured over $63 million in needed homeland security and first responder needs. The county now has a state of the art Emergency Operations Center; an active Regional Hazmat Response Unit and a county-wide emergency warning system providing 100% coverage for the county for the first time. These safety improvements have made the county a more attractive place to live, work and play and are reducing costs of living and costs of business, and have secured new investments in the region, expanding available jobs and options for safe and secure investments in the county to occur.
Portune’s leadership in attacking infant mortality, in pursuing reimbursable revenues for public and behavioral health, expanded oral and dental care and ensuring medical homes for all county residents are saving lives, reducing costs and improving overall public health.
Commissioner Portune has been recognized on a national level as well. His leadership in creating the “Perfect Storm” coalition of communities affected by the high costs of Clean Water Act compliance have generated a model new policy of enforcement for EPA that is poised to save local ratepayers as much as $1 Billion in costs of sewer repairs. Portune’s initiative was acknowledged by the National Association of Clean Water Agencies which awarded Portune a National Environmental Leadership Award in 2013. Already, an alternative of “green build” sewer improvements, made possible because of Portune’s advocacy in this arena, has been approved by the EPA and will save county ratepayers in excess of $200 Million on the cost of required sewer repairs.
Portune’s work in the area of recycling initiatives while Chair of the county Solid Waste Management District garnered him National Legislator of the Year recognition by the United States Recycling Coalition of Communities and Organizations and Portune became only the second non-member of the Solid Waste Association of North America’s Achievement Award.
Portune’s leadership Agenda in 2017 is centered upon continuing work aimed at:
- Creating a multi-modal transportation system moving people and freight more affordably, reliably, efficiently and effectively; and
- Obtaining passage of Portune’s policy initiated legislation in Congress that will reduce to cost of mandated sewer repairs by an estimated $1 Billion; and
- Reducing the county’s unacceptably high infant mortality rate; and
- Introducing a new housing initiative designed to rehabilitate 10,000 homes in 100 county neighborhoods, creating 100 jobs in the process; and
- Completing the creation of 100 Citizen Corps Councils serving the 100 distinct community neighborhoods in Hamilton County in preparing for, and recovering from disasters and emergencies
On a personal note, Commissioner Portune attended public schools, graduating from Colerain High School as National Merit Scholar in 1976 and was named a “Colerain Distinguished Graduate” in 2002. Commissioner Portune went on to study political science at Oberlin College in Ohio. He graduated from Oberlin in 1980, and was inducted into the college’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 1998. He was accepted to law school at the University of Cincinnati where he became president of the Student Bar Association, received Order of the Barristers honors and graduated in 1983.
Commissioner Portune resides in Green Township with his three children.