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City of Covington to Set Priorities for Departments, Commission Through Ordinance

The Covington city commission is set to approve an ordinance establishing a list of priorities for departments at City Hall and the commission itself.

At Tuesday night's city commission caucus meeting, Mayor Joe Meyer gave a brief look into an ordinance that will be presented next week for consideration.

Meyer said the need for the ordinance stems from wanting to hold the departments and the commission accountable, making sure that each subject discussed in meetings is followed up on so a solution can be reached for the city’s issues.

Items on the list range anywhere from reevaluating the building code, debt policies, and fleet management and replacement.

Commissioner Jordan Huizenga said he would like to see them look into professional development opportunities for staff, particularly with management training when promotions occur.

City Manager David Johnston agreed, adding he wants every department manager to look at training for each employee to help them better do their jobs and develop them for promotions and strengthen the staff to make each department better.

With debate and changes to the city’s communication policies over social media in recent months, Commissioner Tim Downing asked that staff also look into creating a set standard for each department on how to interact with community, whether it be in regards to road work or new software utilized by the city, “so that residents have an expectation of how City Hall communicates with them.”

Meyer reiterated that the list is not all inclusive and there will likely have to be amendments to the ordinance throughout the year to add topics as they come up.

Johnston will be responsible for updating the commission and mayor monthly to the progress of each item.

Safer Routes to School Project Updated & Other Notes

After various delays due to budget shortfalls, the public works department is finally moving forward with its Safe Routes to School project.

The project's primary purpose is to replace and patch worn sidewalks near Sixth District Elementary School in Austinburg to help ease the journey to school for children.

TMS Construction won the bid, with the projected cost to be just under $250,000.

Construction is planned to begin mid-August. Public Services Director Rick Davis said the department will make sure construction does not interfere with the school schedule as the work will take about a month to complete.

Recently-appointed finance director Muhammad Owusu is settling into the department as he readies to create the position of procurement officer within his department.

The decision to create the position goes hand-in-hand with City Manager David Johnston’s reorganization plan for the city that went into effect in May.

Owusu said the position had previously been a part of the operations department that no longer exists, so the salary and benefits for the position are already budgeted for the 2018-19 fiscal year and will be transferred to the Finance Department’s budget.

The finance department will also be receiving a revenue collection manager with the promotion of Shannon White.

White’s goal will be to help make sure all money owed to city is collected, and will also help to better project yearly earnings for the city.

Johnston said both positions will help with the city’s yearly outside audit because Covington is regularly flagged for not having a full separation of duties in the finance department.

The finance department will also add two full-time tax auditors, one being left vacant by White’s promotion and one that has been vacant since before Owusu’s time in the department.

Police Chief Rob Nader requested that the commission approve the retirement of three officers from the department and the employment of two new officers at next week’s legislative meeting. With the staffing changes, the police department will be staffed with 109 of the 115 officers budgeted. All employment changes were placed on the consent agenda for next week's legislative meeting.

Written by Carrie Crotzer, RCN contributor