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Kenton County's Parks Lag Behind Neighbors; TIF Proposed in Walton

Kenton County lags behind its neighbors in terms of parks, according to a report by Human Nature at Tuesday's Fiscal Court meeting.
Human Nature's Gary Wolnitzek and Chris Manning presented the results of their evaluation of the county parks system.  Wolnitzek began the presentation by saying the report was not a do-over of the one planned in 2000, but rather a new look at the parks from the viewpoints of the workforce and millennials who have indicated that parks are an important quality of life benefit. 
The study shows that Kenton County lags behind Boone and Campbell Counties in open space per capita, and the consultants suggested that some of the funding for new areas could be gained through partnerships with schools and businesses.
Of the existing parks, ideas were put forth to improve them.  
Doe Run Lake, they said, would be improved by building a boardwalk or some other bridge-type construction, so that people can make a circuit of the lake, which isn't possible at this time. Additionally, a connector to link Doe Run Park to Pioneer Park was proposed, as was an idea for a partially paved trail to make it possible for people to be able to walk or jog the circuit of Pioneer Park.
In Latonia Lakes, Wolnitzek proposed possibly doing away with the lake itself and making the area a multipurpose, open space for community gatherings.
Piner is small, with an elementary school, and for improvement, some acquisition of private property would have to take place, but Wolnitzek suggested that the people in the area would probably support the project. Pelley Road would need trail work for walking and jogging.
Kenton County Judge/Executive Kris Knochelmann said that he appreciated the work on the project and said it was not a deep dive into the matter but it gave an idea of what could be done.
"I want to make it clear, though, that these are just ideas," he stressed. "There are no plans and no funding."
However, Commissioner Jon Draud suggested that a subcommittee be formed to explore the ideas further, and to put a price on the projects. He said that he didn't like the idea that Kenton County is behind the other counties. The other commissioners agreed, although Commissioner Joe Nienaber said they had to remember that if you build it, meaning new parks, someone had to maintain it.
Walton TIF District proposed
Tax consultant and attorney Jim Parsons and businessman Richard Knock came to explain anything the court wanted to know about the development of a tax increment financing (TIF) district known as the Walton Kentucky Industrial Park Local Development Area within the City of Walton (part of which is in Kenton County, while the rest is in Boone). The park, estimated at 290 acres, will have 250 acres in Kenton County, so the fiscal court had the first reading of an ordinance approving the execution of a local development area agreement relating to the matter.  
The City of Walton has proposed the adoption of a TIF to pay for the project costs and redevelopment assistance associated with the industrial park. The city has also agreed to pledge a certain percentage of new incremental revenues, and has created and designated City of Walton Economic Development Authority, Inc, as its agency for its oversight, administration, and implementation of the ordinance.  
Within the county's ordinance is an agreement to pledge a portion of new incremental revenues from the real ad valorem and payroll taxes generated in the development area for thirty years to help with the development of the park.
Parsons, who specializes in TIF districts, said the project would appreciate the county's commitment of 60 percent, which is what the county has put into other TIF districts. He said Walton is imposing a payroll tax on the area, and since the area is expecting to add 1,300 new jobs, the incremental taxes are more guaranteed.
Knock spoke up and said developing the property to this level has been a nightmare, and the regulations and costs have been unbelievable. However, he thinks he might have made advances on the first lot being sold, and the chances of having a shovel in the ground by spring are good.
"The transportation study supports it," said Parsons, referring to the industrial park and its development. He inferred that the road system that is in place already will be sufficient with the addition of a connector road off Mary Grubbs Highway.
The ordinance had its first reading, so no action was taken. The commissioners and the court seemed to view the issue favorably, and they are expected to vote on it next month.
Other notes:
In other business, the fiscal court passed the tax rate of $14.8 cents per $100 valuation on real property, $20.40 cents per $100 valuation on personal property and $15.8 cents per $100 valuation on motor vehicles.  Commissioner Draud pointed out that the county has not taken the 4 percent rate hike in seven years, and the county is in sound fiscal condition.
Commissioners also listened to the first reading of an ordinance related to the improvement of Goshorn Road. In addition, County Administrator Joe Shriver asked the commission to approve the granting of  an easement for the road so that the water district could begin their work.
Another first reading of an ordinance was held which improves the county's code of ordinances regulating animals. Elizabeth Cochran, Director of the Animal Shelter, gave a report, and brought two representatives from the Ohio Alley Cat association.
Twelve exhibits were presented for the consent agenda. These are:
*agreement to enter into an agreement between Kenton County and the Sanitation District regarding private sewer lateral repairs;
*agreement to enter into an agreement between the fiscal court and the Northern Kentucky Regional Hazmat/WMD Unit;
*to enter into an agreement between the Fiscal Court and the Catalytic Fund for consulting, advisory and development services in regard to the brewery building which was just recently purchased. The contract is for $19,500;
*approval to surplus air tanks for the Kenton County Fire Chief's association;
*approval to surplus various equipment for the Kenton County Police Department:
*approval to surplus a 2008 Ford Crown Victoria for the Sheriff's department to be sold to the Covington Independent School Board;
*approval to issue an RFP with the City of Covington and the Boone County Fiscal Court for Fleet repair parts:
*approval to award the bid for three vehicles from McCluskey Chevrolet Inc, for the Kenton County Public Works Department and buildings and grounds:
*approval to surplus various computer equipment belonging to the Kenton County Fiscal Court,, Sheriff and Detention Center;
*request approval to reject all bids for the Cold Shelter Roof project on Scott Street and to rebid the project;
*enter into a lease agreement with Millennium Business Systems for copiers and printers;
*award the gasoline and diesel fuel to Lykins Energy Co for the Kenton County Fleet Department.
Executive orders are as follows:
*approve the reassignment of Jim Underdown from full time to part time dispatcher,
*approve the retirement of Jake Noe as a Sergeant for the Police Department,
*approve the hiring of Rachel White as a Police officer,
*approve the hiring of Daniel Merrell as a Police Officer,
*approve the appointment of Karen Finan to the TriCounty Economic Development Board,
*approve the appointment of  Paul Ritter to the Kenton County Airport Board,
*approve the transfer of Timothy Shields from laborer to Trustee fot he Kenton County Parks and Recreation Department.
Resolutions that were passed included the acceptance of the 2016-2017 budget adjustments, and one that allows the court the opportunity to roll the $4.5 million that the county spent on the Brewery building into a bond.  Another resolution ratified the execution of a grant agreement and any other subsequent grants between the county of Kenton and the Kenton County Airport Board that may be received pertaining to fiscal year 2016 for the funding of the Common Use Apron Rehabilitation project.
The last resolution names the street  entering the football complex at Middleton-Mills Road Park 'Steve Preston Way', in honor of Steve Preston, who recently died. Judge Knochelmann presented a plaque to his widow, as well as a sign proclaiming the new name of the street.
Judge Knochelmann was presented with a plaque for his support of the farm tours.
The tax rate was set for the Kenton County Extension district at 4 percent.  Dennis Gordon from PDS, gave tax rates for PDS, Kenton County Planning and Zoning, and Link GIS, which represented no increase in fees.
Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor
Slideshow Images & Captions: 
Kenton County Judge Executive Kris Knochelmann gives Steve Preston's wife a hug as he presents her with a plaque declaring the road into the football complex at Middleton-Mills park to be renamed Steve Preston Way. Assistant County Administrator Scott Gunning holds the sign.