A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Mayor says Roebling may not open for 6-8 weeks; 3rd quarter financials show good Cov management

By Ryan Clark
NKyTribune reporter

It could be another two months before the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge is ready to reopen, Mayor Joseph U. Meyer told Covington commissioners at their regularly scheduled caucus meeting Tuesday night.

After speaking with Kentucky Transportation Cabinet District 6 Chief Engineer Bob Yeager Tuesday afternoon, Meyer was able to learn that there were already plans in place to make improvements to the sandstone towers on the bridge as early as next year.

Instead, timing and gravity took over.

The bridge has been closed since April 17, when large pieces of rock fell from one of those towers. No one was injured, but officials have closed the bridge to vehicles as a precaution and Meyer said Yeager told him the pieces that fell were large enough to have been fatal if they’d hit anyone.

Tuesday, Yeager told the Mayor that after the incident occurred, the decision was made to give the towers a “quick fix,” but it would have to be one that Historic Preservationists must approve. Unfortunately, problems stood in their way.

Scaffolding couldn’t be used on the bridge because it weighed too much, he said.

A new plan must be approved, which could happen this week, but it still must be put out for bid, and even an emergency bid could take up to 30 days, the Mayor said.

On top of that, it will take time for the work to be accomplished.

The Mayor said he did not get a specific timetable from Yeager, but he did say that “walking through those steps,” it could be “six to eight weeks” before the bridge could be open again to vehicular traffic.

Third quarter financial report presented

Finance Director Muhammed Owusu presented a third-quarter financial report Tuesday night.

The finances looked stable, as Owusu revealed that while normally, expenses and revenues of the general fund should be around 75 percent:

 General fund expenditures are at 66 percent, and

 General fund revenues are at 71 percent.

He said that while he would’ve liked to have brought in more money by this point, he had to praise the city staff.

“Departments are doing very good managing expenses,” he said.

Noting that expenditures were only at 66 percent, Commissioner Michelle Williams asked what seemed to be on everyone’s minds:

“Are we paying the bills?” she asked.

Owusu assured her — and the rest of the room — that they were.

Also Tuesday …

 Commissioners accepted the retirement
of Lt. David Pennington from the Covington Police Department and promoted Officer Joshua Bornhorn to sergeant and Sgt. Darrell Lee to lieutenant.

 Commissioners approved an agreement to discontinue the city’s relationship with Boone County Fiscal Court and Boone County Water Rescue. “In 2009 a new agreement between Campbell County Fiscal Court, Boone County Fiscal Court, Kenton County Fiscal Court, Campbell County Water rescue Inc. and Boone County Water Rescue was entered into for water rescue/recovery services,” city documents read. “In this agreement in section 5, the City of Covington is named as a direct contributor of $15,000 annually. According to the agreement written notice of termination is required prior to May 30 of the same year.”

 Commissioners agreed to a new contract with Dr. Jason Murray for his services as Medical Director for the City of Covington. The current contract with Dr. Paul Spellman expires June 30. After an RFP and interviews with three candidates, Murray was awarded a contract of $3,000 a month, for a total yearly amount not to exceed $36,000.

 Commissioners agreed to enter into a contract with Attorney Linda Ain — at $350 per hour — to assist the city with franchising issues. “A ‘franchise’ is a right or special privilege granted by a governmental entity to a party to do some act which the party could not legally do without a grant from the government,” city documents read. “Typically, public utilities and other providers which occupy city rights of way do so under franchise agreements. The city’s various franchise agreements are out of date and they need to be re-negotiated and reinstated. Additional franchise opportunities for new technology such as small cell towers could be possible. The city will benefit from Linda Ain’s expertise in franchise and telecommunications matters.”

 Commissioners agreed to an ordinance to enlarge the city’s entertainment destination center, EDC. The EDC is essentially an area with a license that allows the open consumption of alcoholic beverages in public places within the boundaries of the EDC. The new EDC will open up the area around RiverCenter for the Kentucky’s Edge bourbon festival in October.

 Commissioners approved a request for proposals for engineering design services for the Western Avenue stabilization. “The Western Avenue Stabilization Project is a section of Western Avenue approximately 500 linear feet long, starting at the intersection with 9th Street and extending North,” city documents read. “The city has allocated funds for the design of this project in FY 19 budget.”

 Commissioners agreed to execute an agreement with Devou Good Project, Inc. for the installation of bike racks in rights-of-ways and the transferring of ownership of those bike racks to the city after installation. On March 5, Ride the Cov made a presentation to City Commission about “a project to increase bike ridership by providing ample parking opportunities through the installation of bike racks,” the proposal said.

The next regularly scheduled Covington Commission meeting will be a legislative meeting held at 6 p.m., May 14, at the Covington City Hall at 20 West Pike St.

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