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Villa Hills Council Plans New Contract for City Administrator Before Leaving Office

No city in Northern Kentucky saw more change to its government on Election Day than Villa Hills.

Its incumbent mayor, Butch Callery, and five of six incumbent members of city council all lost their seats on November 6.

But that government is still in office till the end of the year.

Before leaving office, the current city council is considering a new agreement with its city administrator/clerk, Craig Bohman, who also acts as a city administrator for the Kenton County community of about 7,500 people. 

However, the same group of citizens who opposed the incumbents for their support of a new residential and commercial development on the site of St. Walberg Monastery known as Sanctuary Village, oppose any guarantees to Bohman, who was also supportive of the development project.

Residents packed Wednesday's special meeting of city council only to find that the issue had been tabled until December's meeting.

Parts of the proposal, designed "to make possible full work productivity by assuring Craig T. Bohman's morale and peace of mind", according to a document distributed by opposition group Defend Villa Hills, include $80,000 per year salary, future pay increases, health insurance, time off equivalent to an employee of 15 years (Bohman was hired as city clerk in 2013, adding city administrator to his duties in 2014), a city-issued vehicle with city funds paying for gas and maintenance, and a severance agreement of at least 18 months salary.

Resident Amy Schwarber addressed council, expressing her disagreement with the plan. She said the contract is not a competitive and fair package for a city the size of Villa Hills.

She took particular exception with the city-issued car, saying a car allowance would be more appropriate. Schwarber also said an 18-month severance package was excessive.

"The contract is not reasonable or customary, and is very costly," Schwarber wrote in an email to city officials prior to the meeting. "If there is a need for a contract the taxpayers need to understand what is driving the need and what the total compensation package is for the city administrator with this new contract before taking it to vote."

Mayor Callery said there was a need for the contract in order to provide job security to Bohman, saying he is doing a good job. Callery said that other cities have contracts with their top employee and that Villa Hills would not be out of the ordinary.

With a new mayor and five new council members set to take office, the current council believed a new contract was needed, Callery said.

The contract was negotiated by council members and Bohman, Callery said.

Now, the issue will be considered by council's administrative committee before a vote is taken. That committee meets on December 5 at 6:30 p.m.

Callery said he gave a copy of the proposed contract to Defend Villa Hills in an effort of transparency. He said that organizations tries to paint the current, outgoing government in a negative light, but Callery said he tries to communicate with them and wants to work with them.

Callery won't be part of the negotiations, Callery said, but if the ultimate vote of city council results in a tie, he would cast the tie-breaking vote.

Bohman and Callery previously worked together when Callery was mayor of Covington and Bohman was a city commissioner there in the early 2000s.

Meanwhile, Defend Villa Hills's legal effort to stop Sanctuary Village from proceeding is still in the courts. This week, council adopted an order activating the Sanctuary Village Local Development Area.

Other notes:

Council voted to accept the bid of Morton Salt for the purchase of sodium chloride for the roads at a price of $79.05 per ton, and also to accept the bid from Compass Minerals for a price of $82.78 per ton delivered as the backup supplier.

Council approved the bid of Motorola Solutions, Inc. for the purchase of digital radios in the amount of $98,081, and authorized Mayor Callery to sign the order.

Patricia Dietz was sworn in as a new police officer, and will go to the academy in February.  

J.J. Bird was sworn in as a police sergeant.

Emily Horseman was sworn in as a detective.

Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor
Photo: Craig Bohman (RCN)