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With Formal Funding Request Made, Campbell Commissioner Wants Defensive Action Before Law School Departs

At the Campbell County Fiscal Court meeting, there was more discussion of the possible move of Chase Law School from the Northern Kentucky University campus in Highland Heights to the Kenton County Administration Building in Covington.

Campbell County Commissioner Charlie Coleman has regularly expressed his concern on the topic since first learning about the potential relocation, and on Wednesday night he displayed a document from the the Northern Kentucky Consensus Committee that specifies its intentions to ask the state legislature for $10 million to go towards the rehabilitation of the Kenton County Administration Building for “entrepreneurship, knowledge-based economy and business support services, and professional level education programs”.

Judge/Executive Steve Pendery was absent from the meeting as he and his family attended the graduation of his son from the United State Air Force flight school. In his place was County Commissioner Brian Painter who conceded that perhaps the Fiscal Court might look at the situation more closely now that money has been requested for the project.

“The fact that there has been money requested for the Roebling Point Building through the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce legislative agenda, there might be some changed ground, but he has to of course look at the situation and make those decisions,” Painter said. The consensus committee is not part of the Chamber of Commerce directly, but the two are affiliated. The committee's priorities were announced the same night that the Chamber outlined its own legislative agenda for the 2016 General Assembly session.

Wilder resident Kevin Gordon asked the Fiscal Court if it could offer a resolution that opposed such a move but Painter said that the Fiscal Court had not yet gelled on its opinion on the matter. Coleman has easily been the most vocal member of the Fiscal Court on the issue and sounded frustrated that not enough has been done already.  

“We have sat here and you have heard it said in this Fiscal Court that we don't need to worry about it,” Coleman said. “If it goes through, we may not only lose Chase Law School, but other programs.”

Coleman has grouped with a bipartisan committee that opposes the possible move and one of their main concerns is the decrease in payroll tax that Campbell County and Highland Heights would stand to lose if Chase were to set up shop in Covington. He said that a member of the NKU Board of Regents told him that the school cannot afford to hire more faculty.

“As a matter of fact, their present faculty is complaining about their own salaries now,” Coleman said.

The implication of that statement was that if Chase left, in Coleman's view, the school would have a difficult time filling the void left with other programs on campus. Painter, though, said that he trusts NKU's Board of Regents to make the best decisions for the school.

“NKU President Geoffrey Mearns has been pretty aggressive in getting fair appropriation from the state and I don't see him leaving a hole there where the Chase Law School is as far as financially, and as far as leaving the university without students,” Painter said.

Commissioner Tom Lampe felt compelled to respond to Gordon's insinuations that the Fiscal Court is doing nothing concerning the issue by saying that he has spoken with both Mearns and Board of Regents member Terry Mann and that the information about what would replace Chase Law School on campus is not available at this time.

“They can't tell us what they will backfill that with, they don't even know if they're going to move,” he said. “There are a lot of moving parts, according to President Mearns, and there is a lot to be done if they are going to move."

Other Notes:

  • Lonkard Construction was awarded the bid to perform the work needed on Upper Tug Fork Road to replace the water culvert there. The project will cost a little over $123,000 which was below the estimated cost of $160,000. Half of the funds needed will come from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and the other half from Sanitation District 1.

  • Lonkard was also awarded the bid of $139,000 for the bridge replacement on Ten-Mile Road. For this project, 80 percent of the funding needed will come from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and the remaining 20 percent will be paid by the Fiscal Court. This project also came in under the estimated cost of the bridge replacement.

  • Painter said that the Fiscal Court is pursuing state funding to run water lines to parts of southern Campbell County to bring water to 193 homes in the area. He said that due to the pension crises the state faces, it make take several years but that he and the Fiscal Court intends to stick with it.

  • All fees at the AJ Jolly Golf Course will remain the same as last year after a positive turnout last season.

  • Campbell County will now accept credit card payments from residents for building inspections. Previously, the county only accepted cash or checks.

Written by Bryan Burke, associate editor