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Op-Ed: Keep Villa Hills's Government Stable

The following op-ed is written by Villa Hills Mayor Butch Callery, a candidate for re-election in 2018.

Villa Hills voters have a great opportunity to keep stable government this fall. This is a rare occurrence for Villa Hills.

First, I want to thank all of our council members for their support.  

The only way the city has been able to address the many issues that faced Villa Hills when I took office has been with the council’s willingness to discuss and work through tough problems in a civil manner. As a result, we had 33 months of consecutive unanimous votes. I also want to thank our staff in the police, public works, and administration departments for all of the hard work they do day in and day out in the service of the people of Villa Hills.  

In January of 2015, Villa Hills was $3 million behind in road repair. We completed $2,983,432 of road work.  

Even though a few new road issues have come up, we hope our deferred maintenance will totally be eliminated in a few more years. It is important that the city see this through.

The final phase of new decorative signs and poles will be installed this year which adds an elegant touch to our community. None of the funds for the signs came from the road tax. The funds came from our designated payroll tax. We have received many compliments from our citizens on our new signs.

Our annual audit was clean with an unmodified opinion. We have come in under budget every year since I became mayor.  

Villa Hills is used as a model for other cities to follow for having good budgets and tight fiscal controls.  

There is misinformation in the community about the Sanctuary Village development. This is a great development that will add nearly $150 million to our tax base and bring in an estimated $700,000 per year in taxes once built.

Some people would have voters believe that this was shoved through without public input. That is not true.

There was a 13-month task force process with two well-attended public meetings where the city and the Benedictine Sisters received more than 1,000 written comments of what residents would like to see in the new development.

The Planning Commission unanimously adopted the small area study that set the guidelines for the new development.

The Benedictine Sisters, who have given so much to our community, put their property up for sale and selected a developer.

The plan submitted by the developer calls for more nearly 200 single family homes, up to 74 senior cottages, 35 townhomes, 17 acres of green space and walking trails, and some apartments. All of this is allowed by the plan approved by the Planning Commission.  

A petition submitted to council should have been submitted to the Planning Commission instead. It is unfortunate that a small group of neighbors have sued to stop the sale of the Benedictine Sisters' land over one part of the plan.

Council created a tax increment finance (TIF) district for the new development. It was approved by the Kenton County Fiscal Court and Planning and Development Services. County Commissioner Joe Nienaber stated this is the most conservative TIF he has ever seen. No money from the TIF will go to the developer. It will bring in $4.5 million over 30 years with $2.33 million coming from other taxing districts.  

Projected traffic issues will be addressed through $1.33 million in road improvements paid for by the TIF. No current resident will have to pay into this fund. Only future residents of the new development will pay into it.

Villa Hills is also leading the way in other areas.

We passed an ordinance regulating solar energy panels. It is the first one in Kenton County.

We once again regularly topped the list of the safest small cities.

Our police department was also honored by AAA with a 2017 Traffic Safety Award.

We are providing police service to Crescent Springs and placed a School Resource Officer at River Ridge Elementary. We are doing everything we can to keep our children and teachers safe.

I was selected as the Elected Official of the Year by the Kentucky League of Cities.  This is a great honor for Villa Hills especially after the years of acrimony the city went through before I was elected.  

We are now a designated Kentucky Veterans Hall of Fame City.

I have been married for 51 years to Joyce Brink Callery. We have four adult children, eight grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

I would greatly appreciate your support on November 6th. Thank you.

Written by Butch Callery