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Park Hills Discusses Tax Rates, Sees Plan for New Entrance Sign for Subdivision

Park Hills Mayor Matt Mattone announced at this week's city council meeting that he would not seek re-election, but will instead run for council.

Councilwoman Kathy Zembrodt is the only candidate to file for mayor in November's election.

"This is a wonderful opportunity I've had to sit up here with all of you and serve," Mattone said at the end of Monday's meeting. "And it has come with a great cost, but also with many rewards.

"The city is the most transparent as it's ever been, with Open Gov, and we've got Reach Alert. We've had more folks involved, serving on committees and commissions than we've had in a long while. The civic association is going gangbusters, so much so they're bursting at the seams, and we're trying to help them grow with more people. But with that, I've bit off more than I could chew - the dog caught the truck, and this has been an amazingly time-consuming process. I wouldn't have taken it if I couldn't have dedicated myself to the job, and as I'm thinking about the next four years, and I've got two kids that'll be, one in college and one that's getting ready to be in college, in my heart of hearts, as much as I've enjoyed this, I don't think I can continue on in the same role and not give that same effort to the mayorship."

Mattone said that he could be more effective as a member of council. "I still want to continue to contribute and participate, but I think to not give it 100 percent like I've done for the last couple years just wouldn't be fair to you, so respectfully, I'm not going to seek re-election."

The audience and city council applauded Mattone when he finished his remarks.

In other business, city council set the property tax rate for the new fiscal year at $0.205 per $100 of assessed value. Mattone said that since the Northern Kentucky Area Development District worked on calculating the new rate, adding in the slight increase of property values in the city, Park Hills was able to accept the compensating rate, rather than pursue an increase.

The compensating rate allows a city to collect the same amount of revenue as the year before, "compensating" for increased values.

Since 2008, the property tax rate in the city has been flat.

Councilman Karl Oberjohn warned that the city faces a roughly $107,000 upcoming charge for new digital radios for emergency responders, and the higher cost of ambulance services (provided by Ft. Wright at a rate that is $21,000 more expensive than last year), and increased pensions costs of an additional $15,000 per year for the next ten years. He said a higher tax would help the city cope with the expenses.

The compensating rate plus the maximum 4-percent increase, he argued, would generate an additional $21,000 for the city.

Councilman Greg Claypole said that there will be roughly 50 new homes in the city within a year, and that he would be concerned about raising rates on seniors and those on fixed incomes.

The compensating rate will be up for discussion at a public hearing during the city council caucus meeting on August 27. 

The rate for personal property will be $0.334 per $100 of assessed value.

Other notes:

The developer of Park Pointe, the new subdivision being built along the Covington-Park Hills line where Gateway Community & Technical College previously operated its hilltop campus, returned to council for a presentation.

Paul Zetlwanger of Joshua One showed council members how the entrance would look, since Park Hills refused to re-open Old State Road (except for emergency vehicles) and Covington declined to allow a new entrance on Dixie Highway. Zeltwanger said that his company also purchased the VFW post on Montague Road and a large sign will be placed there, surrounded by greenery, and with a detention basin.

Liz St. Onge of the Park Hills Civic Association asked council for money to fund half of an outdoor message to be placed in Trolley Park. Council approved $500 for it.

St. Onge also asked for funding for a storage shed to house the supplies and decorations that are used at events. That proposal will be discussed further.

Council authorized the mayor to sign an interlocal agreement for the police department to become members of the Kenton County Regional Swat Team. The cost is $3,000 a year but it will provide training for any of the police officers that want it.

In other police business, council approved giving Officer Jack Prater credit for seniority, since he was only gone from the department less than a year. He will get credit for vacation time and half of his accrued sick time.

Council also approved a request from St. Agnes Boosters for the seventh annual Smiles and Miles Race. The race is in September.

Council received copies of the ten-year capital Improvement plan put together by David Baker, who is helping the city, but both Oberjohn and Fire Chief John Rigney noted that a replacement fire truck was not mentioned with the other upcoming major purchases. Council didn't want to post the plan until it determined why the fire truck was left out.

Sue Benning has resigned from the tree board, and Mayor Mattone told the board he needs to appoint someone to the board.

Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor