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As 3 Code Enforcement Officers Quit, Covington Seeks City Staffing Analysis

As Covington development manager and city engineer Mike Yeager checked his email to find a resignation from a code enforcement officer, another email arrived.

The second one was from the code enforcement manager, Tom McDaniel. Yeager assumed that McDaniel had also received the other officer's resignation email and was responding to it. Instead, McDaniel, too, was resigning.

A third code enforcement officer's resignation would quickly follow.

Yeager told The River City News on Wednesday that he was still trying to figure out why all three submitted their resignations, effective immediately. "It was a surprise to me," he said. "There was nothing mentioned ahead of time.

"I was pretty shocked."

On Tuesday, after the Covington city commission meeting, interim city manager Loren Wolff referred questions about the issue to Yeager. Wolff provided details about the structure of the city's code enforcement department, which has seen multiple changes in recent years, and now includes one manager, four part-time exterior code officers, and four interior code officers. The community services clerk provides administrative support. 

The departure of McDaniel, who was elevated to the manager's role when it was created in September, and the two part-time exterior officers, has City Hall trying to figure out a way to handle the department's duties.

The vacated positions will be filled, Yeager said.

"I met with Loren (Wolff) yesterday and I think we have a really good plan to handle everything. We will follow up with the commission to get them on board," Yeager said. The recommendation is for the interior code officers, who report to the fire department, to assist with exterior inspections, "because that is more visible and tangible things for the public to see," he said.

Meanwhile, Yeager said that and the human resources department have calls into the three departed employees to learn more about why they left. "I have reached out and said I'd like to talk if they're willing," he said. Yeager, whose division at City Hall oversees code enforcement, confirmed that there was some difficulty within the office involving conflicting personalities. A meeting had been scheduled with a part-time officer to discuss the matter, Yeager said. That officer was among the three that quit.

The River City News has requested the resignation emails and any related emails between city staff and commissioners, and this story will be updated when more information is known. 

City to spend $45,290 on staffing analysis

Over the past several months, and since a new mayor and commission were elected, high-profile departures have become routine at Covington City Hall. 

The city manager and finance director roles are both currently filled on an interim basis, and the city also lost its economic development manager and multiple employees in the finance and operations departments.

Municipal Solutions, an Arizona-based firm, is in the process of leading the search for the next permanent city manager, and on Tuesday night, the city commission voted to approve an addition $45,290 for the firm to conduct an organizational analysis of City Hall. A similar move was conducted by Cincinnati-based Management Partners just five years ago, which resulted in recommendations that ultimately changed the way code enforcement was set up in the city.

Typically, expenditures of more than $20,000 are to be out for bid - but the commission was able to award the money directly to Municipal Solutions on the basis of calling the move an emergency.

"In light of these vacancies we have, the idea is that to use this as an opportunity to make things better and to be thoughtful in assessing operations and looking at efficiencies and best practices," Wolff told The River City News.

Resumes of potential city manager candidates are currently being looked at. "We're still on track to have an offer at the of June," said Wolff, who replaced Larry Klein, who resigned under pressure, as interim city manager earlier this year.

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