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Notes from Covington City Commission Meeting

The Covington City Commission met on December 4, the second-to-last meeting before the new commission takes over. The final meeting for this commission and specifically Mayor Chuck Scheper and Commissioners Shawn Masters and Steve Casper who will not return next year is set for December 18. A special meeting has also been called for Friday to discuss issues at hand with the newly elected members of the commission.

Here is the full rundown on what happened at the last Covington City Commission Tuesday night:

Previous stories from the meeting:

An old, vacant building on Scott Boulevard owned by the City will be sold to a private developer for $1 and when it is renovated, it will serve as a permanent home for the Covington Police Department bike patrol (SEE: Scott Blvd Building to Be Renovated, Will House Bike Patrol)

The Housing Authority of Covington presented a sketch of its ten-year plan and will evaluate what to do with City Heights (SEE: Housing Authority Celebrates 75 Years, Plans for Next 10)

The Covington Neighborhood Collaborative presented its 2013 calendar which is for sale ($7.50) and features photographs of every city neighborhood taken by student photographers (SEE: New Calendar Helps Covington Look Ahead in 2013)

Other items from Tuesday's meeting:

City payroll tax lowered

The commission unanimously approved lowering the city's payroll tax from 2.5% to 2.45%. "This is the first time in Covington's history that we're lowering the payroll tax," said Commissioner Steve Frank. The modest decrease is part of Mayor Chuck Scheper's effort to put the city in a more competitive position with neighboring cities.

"I implore future commissions to continue this so that we can be more competitive with our neighbors," the mayor said. One added benefit that Covington offers even against cities like Cincinnati that still have a lower payroll tax rate is a cap on the income that is taxed. Covington only taxes payroll up to $110,000 whereas Cincinnati taxes everything.

Monthly enhanced 911 system charge to be eliminated

Because Kenton County has taken over emergency dispatch services for the City of Covington, the fee that appears on telephone bills will disappear effective January 1.

The Covington Economic Development Authority

An ordinance passed that will create a tax increment financing (TIF) district that encompasses much of Covington's urban core. The TIF is expected to help finance economic development projects such as the announced Hotel Covington.

Budget adjusted to boost infrastructure needs

City finance director Bob Due asked the commission to reallocate funds from the budget to reflect $7.78 million that will go toward infrastructure needs and economic development. (Details of where the funding would go was covered previously at RCN. SEE: Last Meeting Sets Stage for Next Meeting at Covington City Hall) While there are specific figures allocated for specific projects, each would still require the approval of the Covington City Commission. "This saves us money by getting ahead of some of the needs in the town," Frank said.

The commission also approved a bond issued through the Kentucky Bond Corporation in the amount of $15 million that will be amortized over the next 25 years..It was explained that this deal brings on no new debt burden for the city and will help the city in its effort to address infrastructure needs.

Changes in structure of new code enforcement department

The code enforcement department was reorganized earlier this year when the commission voted to reduce the manpower (and eliminate its manager) while heavily relying on part-time officers. Another change was approved Tuesday night. Assistant City Manager Larisa Sims explained that newly named Community Services Manager Mike Yeager, who will be overseeing the revamped code enforcement department, was left with twelve direct reports underneath him. The commission approved to change the job description of one of the code enforcement positions to allow for the hiring of a supervisor that will oversee some employees and serve as project manager on some upcoming projects, including the demolition of many city-owned buildings. Yeager will now have six direct reports. "The city allocated more money than ever for infrastructure, so project management is needed," Sims said. The position is not a new one and instead reflects a replacement of a third building inspector that was to be hired. A candidate has been identified.

Other notes:

  • A block of Thirteenth Street between Wood Street and Madison Avenue will change from one-way to two-way traffic to facilitate customers using the forthcoming Walgreens that will be built at Twelfth Street & Martin Luther King Boulevard
  • $427,500 will be spent to replace the 15-year old computer software used by the finance and human resources departments
  • The code enforcement board will now have the authority of a nuisance board, allowing the city to take precedence over other institutions when liens are necessary on properties
  • Baker Hunt Art & Cultural Center was honored for its ninety years of service in the community
  • Several employees of the city completed a customer service training program in partnership with Gateway College.
  • Covington Police Specialist Jennifer Colemire was honored for being selected to serve as president of Kentucky Women in Law Enforcement Network. Colemire has been with the department since 2003 and is a graduate of Holy Cross High School and holds Bachelor's and Master's degrees. She won the life-saving medal in 2004 and 2005. "If Jennifer is half the president that she is an officer for our city than that organization is destined for success," said Police Chief Spike Jones. Colemire also commented, "I look forward to the upcoming year and empowering, educating, training, and mentoring our members in all facets of law enforcement."
  • Pete Nerone and Marc Hult were reappointed to the Devou Park Advisory Committee for three-year terms.
  • Matthew Demarcus was reappointed to the board of adjustments for a four-year term

Written by Michael Monks, Editor & Publisher of The River City News

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