A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Covington Commission to hear more investigation results next week, continues reorganization talks

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By Ryan Clark
NKyTribune reporter

As the city commissioners continued on with their regular caucus meeting Tuesday night, discussing topics such as a possible reorganization of the city’s structure, Mayor Joseph Meyer surprised the audience by adding another bullet point to the night’s agenda.

He wanted those in attendance to note that one other topic would be discussed at the commission’s next legislative meeting December 12.

Meyer said the Board would hear the results of a second report from an independent investigation concerning the City’s Code Enforcement Department, this one detailing the improper use of public resources for a private purpose.

“Let’s just get it all out there,” Meyer said afterward. “It should be interesting.”

Meyer said the Board did not have the report “in hand,” though he said he thought they would see it before the next city meeting.

The investigation, conducted by Scott White of Miller Edwards Rambicure PLLC of Lexington, has already produced a 29-page October report that detailed gross mismanagement, a lack of professionalism, and the need for clearer policy manuals. It was ordered by the Board last summer after the resignation of three code enforcement officers who complained about the department’s management.

Meyer said there is no way of knowing what is in the second report, but – just like everyone else – he is interested to find out

Prior to the investigation announcement Tuesday, commissioners heard again from City Manager David Johnston, who is in the process of reworking the city’s organizational structure.

Last week, Johnston came up with his own draft of a reorganization plan and presented it to commissioners, describing it as “a first cut as I see it.”

Tuesday, he presented four new positions that would need to be hired: a Director of Public Works, a project engineer, a Neighborhood Services Director and an Economic Development Director. Aside from the Neighborhood Services Director, each of the positions is just a reworked version of an existing job.

That means the Neighborhood Services Director is the only job that would need Board approval for creation. “Anything that deals with neighborhoods goes there,” Johnston said.

“Before we hire anybody, we want to make sure we have the jobs approved,” Commissioner Bill Wells said.

ALSO TUESDAY:

  • Commissioners heard a recommended settlement from the Dec. 13, 2013 Caroline Avenue wall collapse. Assistant City Manager Frank Warnock and the city reported that the wall engineers – whom the city sued after paying $331,332 to rebuild the structure – had offered $130,000 to settle the lawsuit. Warnock explained that neither side would accept blame, and to continue the legal fight would cost too much money. In December 2013, a water main broke and its retaining wall collapsed, which also resulted in a gas line break and the evacuation of four homes. Now, almost four years later, the city’s attorneys recommended to take the settlement, and the Board put it on the agenda for next Tuesday.
  • Commissioners heard a plan to move forward with the Orchard Park project, at the request of Commissioner Jordan Huizenga. After Huizenga suggested to revisit the project, Johnston explained that over the summer, the city asked for a Request for Proposals from interested developers and received three – which have remained unopened in the city offices. In order to move forward, Johnston said they must first create a committee to evaluate the RFPs. “If it’s okay with you, I’ll go ahead and get that process started,” he said. The Board agreed and a committee will be created.
  • Commissioners approved a $50,000 grant for the rehabilitation of the Flannery Building located at 501 Martin Luther King Boulevard, which has been vacant for more than 10 years. Economic Development specialist Ross Patten said the building already has three tenants, a café, an architectural firm and a development firm, and could recoup the city’s investment in about four years.
  • Commissioners heard from a representative of the Braxton Brewing Company, which is hoping to expand by using six more brewing tanks, to be located on an adjacent city-owned lot. The Board put it on the agenda for next Tuesday.
  • Commissioners accepted the retirement of Covington Fire Chief Dan Mathew, and approved Assistant Fire Chief Mark Pierce as Interim Fire Chief.

The next Covington Commission meeting will be a legislative meeting held at 6 p.m. Tueday, Dec. 12 at the Covington City Hall at 20 West Pike St.

Contact the Northern Kentucky Tribune at news@nkytrib.com

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