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Newport Schools OK Deal for Hotel, Mixed-Use Project; Contract with TANK

The Newport Board of Education voted to support the city's industrial revenue bond (IRB) issuance for a roughly $30 million hotel and mixed-use development slated for the parking lot adjacent to the World Peace Bell. 

That project was announced in May by World Peace Bell Hospitality, the firm behind Newport's Hampton Inn.

The new development will encompass the parking lot at Fourth and Monmouth streets, and will remove the building attached to the World Peace Bell, which currently houses Southbank Partners.

In order to get the buy-in from the school board, the city and developers offered incentives such as dropping the cost of the school district's school resource officer by $8,000, and giving the district a credit at the hotel.

With the IRB issuance, the school district will receive $50,000 for ten years in lieu of traditional property taxes, and $75,000 for the next ten years of the 30-year bond.

Newport Schools Chief Financial Officer Tete Turner explained that the deal will cost the district some state funds. 

Turner said he looked at all aspects of the agreement and declared that the development will bring jobs and revenue to the city, and offer opportunities to students in the future for employment.

The Campbell County Fiscal Court also approved the project.

In other business, the school board accepted a contract with the Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky (TANK) for three buses to transport students in grades 7 though 12.

Last year, the district contracted with TANK for two buses, but often found that three were needed.

"There is no way we could transport all of our children," said Tim Grayson, director of facilities and transport. "There is no way, unless we started using a split schedule."

With TANK buses transporting high school students, the district's own buses can be used for the younger students.

Grayson said the district could look at buying more buses, but then it would still have the problem of finding bus drivers for the buses.

"There are not enough drivers," Grayson. "It is happening in every district in Kentucky. And we need them not only for everyday driving, but also for field trips."

Turner said it makes more fiscal sense for the district to use its own buses, but not for this year, because of the delays involved in ordering new buses.

The cost of the contract with TABK is $71,000.

Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor