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Florence Conforms to New State Law Relating to Code Enforcement

Florence City Council has decided to comply with House Bill 422 which will go into effect on July 15, by tailoring its code enforcement board's regulations with those set by the General Assembly in the aforementioned bill. At a special meeting Tuesday night, Mayor Diane Whalen read the new ordinance for the first time which repeals and amends several existing ordinances to conform with the provisions of the House Bill, which made extensive changes to the statutes authorizing and governing code enforcement boards.

"It doesn't change a thing," said Whalen, after the meeting. "It gives us a recourse to follow, and gives more teeth to the rules. The fines look severe, but what this does is cap the fines, instead of compiling day-to-day fines. We are in the forefront of the state in complying with this."

Councilman Mel Carroll suggested that the city receive a 90-day, and possibly a 180-day report on how the new program is going, because he felt there would be reaction from the public. Mayor Whalen agreed to feedback in 90 days. She also said that recent cases scheduled for the code enforcement board have been postponed until after this ordinance goes into effect to lessen confusion.

Council passed the second reading of the $33 million budget which will begin on July 1, and Whalen confirmed that it is about 5 percent higher than last year, due to uncontrollable items such as healthcare, pensions, and salaries.

"It is the best use of city funds," said Whalen. "It is very conservative."

Council also passed an ordinance amending the 2015-2016 budget which reflected several items including a change in the hazardous pension costs, replacement of the HVAC system in the garage, an increase in the general fund revenue due to a power cot grant received by the fire department, increased overtime expenses in the fire department, the addition of a line item to the city project section relating to the demolition of the Florence Inn, and golf course expenses.

Another ordinance was passed which amends prior ordinances relating to personnel policies, job descriptions and the pay plan. Some of the amendments were the elimination of the temporary lieutenant in the fire/EMS department; creating a CFO/HR position; adding a 1 percent cost of living raise to the pay plan; and a condition that paramedics who are promoted to lieutenant will start at step 2 of the captain's pay scale.

A municipal order passed which approves a revision to the interlocal cooperation agreement for the Northern Kentucky Regional Ethics Authority. This revision happens when new cities join the authority, and Independence and Ludlow have just joined.

Mayor Whalen announced that the position of Community and Business Development Director, formerly held by Josh Wice, has been filled by Josh Hunt, who has been at the city since 2001. Hunt lives in Verona, and has three children.

She also announced that City Clerk Joe Christofield, who has been with the city for fourteen years, will be leaving to take the position of Community and Public Relations director in Erlanger. Christofield will be at Florence through July 8.

Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor