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Covington Hires New IT Manager, Pays for Caroline Repairs with Federal Funds

The City of Covington hired Lisa Desmarais on Tuesday as the new information technology and data manager at City Hall.

The position was one of the recommendations spelled out in State Auditor Adam Edelen's examination of the city's finance department following the alleged theft of nearly $800,000 by former director Bob Due.

Desmarais's hiring was approved unanimously.

"I'm absolutely excited to be able to join the City of Covington," Desmarais said. "I was here last week to shadow the finance department and there are so many great people and a lot of good work to be done."

Due had previously served as the finance department's IT director as part of a system that left many departments fractured with their own IT managers. The creation of this new position which pays $66,000 annually, will streamline that work. Desmarais will also report directly to the city manager instead of the finance director, one of Edelen's suggestions when making the recommendation.

"Lisa is eminently qualified," City Manager Larry Klein said Tuesday. Desmarais arrived in the area twenty years ago when she was tapped by Fidelity Investments to assist with their location of a large operation in South Covington. "What a great day for Covington for Lisa and her family to come here," Klein said, calling her a "standout, no-brainer choice".

The new IT manager is married to Norm Desmarais, a founding partner and chairman of the board at TiER1 Performance Solutions, the growing firm based in Covington's RiverCenter towers. The couple has three daughters and reside in Licking Riverside.

Lisa Desmarais previously served on the city's audit committee and resigned from that board on Tuesday in order to assume her new role.

The commission also approved the hiring of Jacqueline Stephens as the finance technician in the finance department. In her new role, Stephens will assist and work as a back-up to the purchasing manager, work the customer service window, and assist the finance director and assistant finance director in administrative duties. Stephens has worked as a temporary clerk in the department since May 2013.

City redirects federal funds to cover costs of Caroline Underpass repairs

The city commission approved the use of federal community development block grant funds to cover the costs associated with the repair of the collapsed wall at the Caroline Underpass in Latonia.

The collapse, where work was being done on the road, forced four homes to be evacuated for two months. Those residents have since returned.

As the city sorts out the legal question of who is ultimately responsible for the collapse and its related repair costs (the city, the engineers, the contractors, the Water District, and/or others), the commission previously approved spending its own capital dollars to cover the cost.

City Engineer Mike Yeager presented the commission with the actual figures associated with the repair before the federal funds were redirected to cover them.

Scherzinger will be paid $116,000 for erecting a temporary wall, Argo will be paid $18,500 for demolishing the old wall, Advanced Contractors will receive $98,325 for putting the concrete wall in place, and MarkCo Plumbing will get $8,311.91 for fixing the broken sewer line and restoring water service to the four homes.

The total cost is more than $241,000 and a decorative fence still has to be added when work is completed.

CDBG funds arrive in the city coffers every year and have to be spent by May or they are lost. If the money is recouped through litigation or other means, those CDBG dollars can be reassigned toward other projects, it was noted Tuesday.

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News

Photo: Lisa Desmarais/Lydia Cook for RCN