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Covington: More Bike Racks Proposed, Business Incentives Awarded

Tuesday's Covington city commission caucus meeting brought discussions of more bike racks, awarding incentives to new businesses, and contracting with a consultant to collect delinquent taxes.

Bike rack proposal

Joe Koehl, president of Ride the Cov, an initiative to promote more bike riding throughout the city, asked for the commissions support to bring more bike racks to the Covington.

Ride the Cov would like to purchase and install 500 permanent, secure, bike-specific parking racks throughout the city.

“The racks, placed near the sidewalks’ curb, will accommodate two bikes each, effectively creating two free parking spaces for any business in the vicinity,” he said.

Installation would begin in May, which is National Bike Month.

The group also wants to create a website where the general public can request installation of a bike rack and report damaged racks or abandoned bikes.

“The goal is to encourage more people to ride a bike as a healthier, more sustainable, and more fun mode of transportation,” Koehl said.

Koehl said that the placement of the racks, painted black, will be determined with the approval of the Covington Public Works Department. Installation will be carried out by a mutually agreed upon contractor.

The commission gave their informal approval for Ride the Cov to move forward.

“This is something we need to do,” Commissioner Denny Bowman said. “I also think because of the bike use growth, we need a bicycle store in Covington.”

Commissioner Tim Downing said he advocates greater bike use, but questioned whether five hundred would be too many.

Koehl said he believed five hundred would be good.

“If we have one on each block, that’s not too many,” he said. “I believe we can put five hundred in Covington. We are a big city. We can get these racks all over, near schools and subdivisions.”

Koehl also noted that bike parking options encourage a car free lifestyle, saving residents on average about $6,100 per year, according to AAA.

“Bike riders also spend three times as much on local goods as people that rely on cars,” he said.

Incentives

The Commission also gave consent to include several requests from businesses to receive either rent or facade incentives on the upcoming business agenda.

Last summer, Covington expanded the boundaries of the rent subsidy and facade improvement incentives to help small businesses throughout the city. The Commission also doubled the budget for the two programs to $150,000 enabling it to help about twenty-five small businesses.

  • The rent subsidy program provides up to $500 a month.

  • The facade improvement program offers property owners a forgivable loan of up to $6,000to match dollar-for-dollar their investment in updates to their commercial building’s exterior.

The city’s loan committee recommends $21,570 of program funding to benefit three facade projects and one rent subsidy applicant.

Mac’s Pizza Pub, located in Covington on Main Street since 2015, is doing a facade upgrade for $15,671 that will replace eight upper-floor windows and one large window on the ground level. The pizza pub is requesting $6,000 from the facade improvement funds.

OKOTA is a wedding design and planning company that moved to 266 Pike Street and is completely renovating the entire building, restoring historical aspects. They are planning to improve the exterior, replace windows, paint, and tuck-point. The cost is expected to be $24,947. They are requesting $6,000.

Kenneth E. Smith, owner of 3616 Decoursey Ave., is planning to demo and remove current display windows, reconstruct the store front and add a commercial garage door to open up to the street. He hopes to attract a retail user the property soon. Facade improves will be about $19,000; he is requesting $6,000.

Finally, Head 2 Toe Salon, a full-service salon that opened in Latonia last November is requesting $3,570 from the rent subsidy program.

Tax collecting

The commission also discussed the contracting with Avenu Insights & Analytics, a consultant headquartered in California to collect delinquent taxes from residents and businesses in the city.

The contract would be for three years. Avenu Insights and Analytics will provide tax collection services to the city for a 25 percent contingency fee for delinquent property tax collection, and a 40 percent contingency fee for delinquent occupational tax discovery and collection.

The proposal will be on the consent agenda next Tuesday.

Commissioner Downing said the city has a total of $2.5 million in delinquent taxes from the last three years.

“That’s $2.5 million lost in infrastructure improvements, park improvements, new fire and police vehicles,” he said. “Our predecessors made the call to make cuts to our financing department. We’re going to be lucky if we get 25 percent (of the $2.5 million). All that, $2.5 million for a short term fix of $50,000 in savings. It is just insanity.”

Finance Director Muhammed Owusu said the city will continue to work as hard as they can to collect delinquent taxes before bringing in the consultants.

The consultants will only see the “toughest cases,” Mayor Joe Meyer said.

Written by Melissa Reinert, RCN contributor