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Covington Commission set to approve incentives for $5M+ in investment; will hire assistant city manager

By Ryan Clark
NKyTribune reporter

With apologies to Charles Dickens, Economic Development Director Tom West just couldn’t resist.

It was a Tale of Two Structures, he said.

Under the pending deal, Icon Marketing Communications of Fort Mitchell would buy and move into the building owned, recently renovated and occupied by ROAD iD (provided image).

Then again, he would go on to later edit his own statement, in a presentation to the city commissioners at their regularly scheduled caucus meeting Tuesday night.

It really isn’t about the structures, he corrected.

It’s about the companies, because economic development is about jobs. With that, he went on to explain what the city would be receiving if they agreed to grant certain tax incentives to both Icon Marketing Communications and ROAD iD.

Icon, a marketing firm currently housed in Fort Mitchell, will move to the ROAD iD building at 35 W. Eighth St., bringing with it 36 employees (with plans to add 10 more) and investing $4.13 million to renovate the building, founder and CEO Shawn Murdock said.

ROAD iD, which moved to Covington in 2018, makes safety identification tags and bracelets for runners, cyclists and people with emergency conditions. They plan to move to a warehouse it owns, located south of their existing building. They will add five employees and invest $1.3 million to renovate 20,000 square feet of space, co-founder and CEO Edward Wimmer said.

In years one through five, ICON and ROAD iD will receive 1.25 percent tax rebates, so long as they stay in Covington. The ROAD iD agreement replaces a previous forgivable loan for renovation.

“It’s a win for the city,” Commissioner Tim Downing said.

“Everybody seems to be pretty happy with it,” said Mayor Joseph U. Meyer.

“It’s highly visible,” West said. “Just another sign of everything going on in that area.”

Also Tuesday: 

More retirements, 9 firefighters to be hired

Still more city firefighters and police announced their retirements Tuesday, including assistant police chief Brian Steffen, detective Corey Warner and assistant fire chief Chris Kiely.

“I did not come to this decision lightly, but in light of the new factor changes made to the retirement system which will take effect Jan. 1 2020, I have found myself, like many others, in a position where I am compelled to take this step to ensure that my financial security is optimized rather than reduced,” Steffen wrote in his resignation letter.

“It is with some regret that I must inform you of my decision to retire effective Dec. 1 of this, 2019,” Warner wrote. “This comes due to the impending Actuary that is set to be implemented in January 2020 and is no reflection on the City of Covington or more importantly, to me, the Covington Police Department or your leadership.”

“This letter is to officially inform you of my intention to be retired in the State of Kentucky Pension System on Dec. 1, 2019,” Kiely wrote. “My last day of employment with the City of Covington Fire Department will be Nov. 30, 2019.”

That said, the city did announce the hiring of nine new firefighters. Over the last eight weeks, the city had 75 people apply for the nine positions. After interviews and background checks, the groups was whittled down to nine, who were then offered jobs. All accepted, and their approval was put on the consent agenda for next week.

Asst. City Manager to be hired

Johnston updated the Commission that the assistant city manager will start Dec. 9, and will also be present Nov. 26 when the Commission approves the hire. Interviewing for the Ombudsman position will begin later in the month.

Johnston also noted that $15,000 has been spent on lights to illuminate the wreaths on the light poles on MLK. 

City officials’ bonds are increased

“This ordinance revision is the final step in a several month process where city staff worked to obtain appropriate bonds and insurance policies to adequately protect the city from potential losses from theft, mismanagement, etc.,” city documents read. “Currently, the City Manager and Finance Director are individually bonded up to $5 million each. All other staff are covered by an insurance policy with a $1 million limit.”

Previously, the amount was $25,000.

“When I saw $25,000, I was like, ‘Oh wow,’” said City Manager David Johnston. “This is one of these things you just have to do because you never know.”

Assistant City Manager hire moves forward

Bruce Applegate, the Personnel Director and Director of Administrative Services for the city of Oak Ridge, Tenn., since 2016, has been offered the position of Covington Assistant City Manager. After 140 people applied, his background was vetted by an interview group, as well as by Commissioners Shannon Smith and Tim Downing. 

“Bruce is an outstanding candidate,” Downing said, adding he would be “happy to have him meet the others.”

Because Applegate will appear at next week’s meeting. The approval of his hire will be on the regular agenda at the meeting. 


Commissioner Smith was absent Tuesday.

The next regularly scheduled Covington Commission meeting will be a legislative meeting held at 6 p.m., Nov. 26, at the Covington City Hall at 20 West Pike St.

Contact the Northern Kentucky Tribune at news@nkytrib.com

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