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Bailey Officially Named Ft. Wright Administrator, City Looks for Duke to Have Skin in the Game

Jill Bailey was officially named city administrator in Ft. Wright at the most recent city council meeting.

After more than twenty years in that role in Taylor Mill, Bailey takes the reins from Ed Butler in Ft. Wright. Butler will stay on through the end of the month to assist Bailey as she gets acclimated.

Butler is moving on to become chief deputy at the Kenton County Detention Center.

Meanwhile, the city council listened to the first reading of a pair of ordinances related to establishing a municipal utility franchise agreement on natural gas and electricity services.

"I think it is patently unfair that companies like Cincinnati Bell and Spectrum have to pay a franchise fee for selling within the city, so Duke (Energy) should have to also," Mayor Dave Hatter said. "Ultimately, the citizens are going to pay because they will pass the fee on. But this way everyone has skin in the game."

Hatter also said that a state senator, left unnamed, told him recently that the city hadn't even tapped into all their sources to come up with more revenue to be able to afford the raise in pension payments, which, this year, even with the payments phased in, will still be around $50,000 more.

"I am definitely in favor of it," said Hatter, referring to the franchise fee. "It makes sense to me."

These ordinances are only for soliciting bids for the municipal utility franchise agreements for natural gas and electricity, and they only expect to receive one bid, since Duke is the only company that sells gas and electricity within the city limits.

Even though it was a first reading for the ordinances, council voted to affirm both of them.

Council passed the second reading of an ordinance softening the rules on projectile shooting instruments within the city limits. Councilmen Scott Wall and Mike Hoerlein voted no on the issue.

The city has finally installed a brand new digital sign in front of the city building, which only needs a little landscaping to complete the look. Council then passed a resolution declaring the old sign to be surplus property. The old sign will be listed on Gov Deals, where it will be placed for sale.

Kathleen Ramirez and Jeannine Kreinbrink, from the James A Ramage Civil War Museum, came to give an update on the events at the museum, and they also said the museum was operating in the black, which is a boon for the center.

State Senator Chris McDaniel visited the council meeting to give an update on the legislative session which just ended. He said the legislature was able to pass the phase-in of the increase in pension payments.

After he finished, Mayor Hatter commented.

"I commend you and the governor for tackling this, but it doesn't address the long-term impact on our budget," he told McDaniel. "It's like it is a flesh wound instead of a smoking hole chest wound."

Councilman Scott Wall asked pointedly about a person named William Cook, who worked as a senior portfolio manager and director at Prisma Capital Partners for 11 years, helping KRS invest $455 million in a hedge fund named for Daniel Boone. While this was a tremendous investment, KRS then voted to invest more in the fund, which raised the amount invested to $700 million. The fund return in 2016 was 1 percent, while the Dow Jones Industrial average rose 15 percent over the same period of time.

This hedge fund is a type of hedge-fund-of-funds and many people are upset by the management fees of $3.85 million a year and the lack of transparency so anyone can see where the money is invested.

Cook retired from Prisma in 2015, but then Governor Matt Bevin appointed him to the KRS board in 2016. Wall wanted answers about what seems to him to be a continuation of bad investment choices, as well as bad appointment choices.  

"Did Governor Bevin put him on the board to clean up his own mess?," asked Wall.

Councilman Bernie Wessels asked if the lawsuit brought by Attorney General Andy Beshear will change the amounts of the phased-in payments making them higher. The lawsuit apparently challenges the authority of the pro-tem Speaker of the House to stand in for the Speaker. McDaniel said if the lawsuit wins then possibly the entire legislative session could be thrown out, but he doesn't think that will happen because it states clearly in the rules that the pro-tem speaker can stand in for the speaker.

Police Chief Marc Schworer told council that the active shooter training his team conducted at St Agnes School recently was very successful. He said that this was the first time that an active shooter drill was done that had children involved in this area.

Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor