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Covington commission sets goals; Hilltop moving downtown; Highland Ave. development considered

By Ryan Clark
NKyTribune reporter

The priorities are set.

Once again, City of Covington Commissioners have placed their goals in writing for all to see. This year, their aspirations include: bringing stormwater fees and management responsibilities back to the city, agreeing to a contract with the Transportation Cabinet for maintenance of state highways, and developing an order for code enforcement policies and procedures.

Again meeting virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions, Commissioners agreed to place the list of priorities on the consent agenda for next week’s legislative meeting.

“We discussed these for several hours this weekend,” Mayor Joseph U. Meyer said, referencing the previous weekend’s special virtual meeting.

No other discussion was necessary.

Here is the list of priorities:

During the 2020-2021 fiscal year, the City Manager shall provide recommendations in the following areas to the Board of Commissioners for consideration:

1. Franchise Agreements for all utility companies serving the city.

2. A Digital Equity Plan to extend wireless service to other areas of the city.

3. Return of building permit and inspection services from PDS to the city.

4. Returning stormwater fees and management responsibilities from Sanitation District No. 1 to the city government.

5. A contract with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet for the assumption of
maintenance of state highways in the city except for I-75/71 and l-275, at fair

6. Revision of Urban Forestry ordinance.

7. Street cleaning policy and signage requirements to address parking after the
street has been cleaned and for persons who are out of the area on business or vacation when the relevant streets are cleaned.

8. The effect of the pilot program on the use of Speed Humps.

9. The appropriate use of the Covington “C” and the official city seal.

10. Emergency response protocol for emergencies arising with the city.

11. An order adopting Code Enforcement policies & procedures.

12. Enforcement of Rental License rules for smaller landlords.
13. Adoption of a progressive fine system for housing code violations, building code and zoning/historic preservation requirements.

14. Data Security Policy.

15. Policy that describes the circumstances and extent to which private use of city-owned computers and cellphones, and the city’s wireless system and email system, is appropriate.

16. Social Media Policy.

17. Development of a Register/Codification of Commission’s major policy orders.
18. Development of a Register for City Manager Administrative Orders.
19. Development of Master Calendar listing the quarterly, annual and biennial
activities and events relevant to the operation of the city commission.

20. Record retention policy consistent with state law and procedures for
management of the city’s records (Electronic Document Management System) to include communications from the City Manager, Mayor, Departmental file creation and maintenance standards, various Board meeting minutes, and official letters.

21. Ordinance regulating the operation of Air BnBs.

22. Review ambulance service charges as set out in Section 98.03 of the Covington Code of Ordinances and advise whether they should be adjusted to reflect
current cost structure.

23. Status reports on the implementation of a two-year plan for The Finance
Department to:
A. Allocate health insurance costs to departments based on departmental experiences
B. Establish Fleet Management as an internal fund
C. Allocate Liability Fund expenditures to departments

During the 2020-2021 fiscal year the City Manager shall implement the following directives from the Board of Commissioners:

1. Work with Main Strasse property owners to have the pavers re-set at their
expense; the city will have to plan for curb repairs/replacement and resetting of pavers in islands where necessary.

2. Engage outside counsel to foreclose on tax and other city liens on properties.

3. Develop a succession plan for all departments.

4. Institute a bi-weekly email from the city manager to keep the Board of
Commissioners advised of significant events within the city and of progress on
the commission priorities.

5. Create a functional relationship between HR and Departments.

6. Develop external relationships with local universities, trade schools and high
schools to establish pathways for the recruitment of interns and full-time

7. Improve the onboarding and mentorship available through HR.

8. Publicize the timing for full road repair/replacement and make sure the citizens are aware of the upcoming projects.

9. Before the Bid soliciting prices for road repair/replacement goes out, ensure that the commission and public are aware of the priorities

10. Reassess how the city government is handling unlicensed business operators
within the city, specifically on big construction and on code enforcement-related problems.

11. Improve neighborhood awareness and participation in the Neighborhood Grant Program.

Hilltop Basic Resources, Inc., to move HQ to downtown

Hilltop Basic Resources, Inc., will move their headquarters to the Rivercenter in downtown Covington and will receive incentives from the city.

The company will make a $3.3 million investment and bring 20 corporate employees (with an average salary of $110,000). The net new payroll revenue will top $430,000, city officials said.

“It’s really great to have major employer relocate to downtown Covington,” Mayor Meyer said. The agreement will be placed on the consent agenda for next week’s meeting.

Highland Avenue Development will get first reading

Commissioners agreed to move forward with a map amendment for the 1400 Highland Ave. housing project that had been previously tabled. Commissioners were concerned with the plan, which involves putting a 132-unit, five-building apartment complex on 14.94 acres at Henry Clay and Highland Avenue.

At issue was the age-old problem of flooding in the Peaselburg neighborhood.

After the developer met with residents over the past few weeks, the proposal was back in front of the Commission.

“The flooding in Peaselburg is terrible,” city Economic Development Director Tom West said. But he noted that it doesn’t all come from that side, saying that this development would “move the needle in the right direction” toward helping relieve the problem.

Mayor Meyer noted, “this is a positive.” He said the development would reduce the flow of water, add population growth (which is beneficial to the city), and convert the land from a nonprofit piece of property to a paying one.

He said the city would have to work with Sanitation District to curb the possibility of flooding problems and that reason should not deter the city from allowing the development to move forward.

The proposal will get a first reading at next week’s legislative meeting.

On a side note, the Mayor again praised the city’s economic development staff for its efforts.

“It is truly a team effort,” West said, saying Covington officially passed the 1,000 mark on job recruited to the city since March 1.

Small business guidelines get updates

Covington’s Small Business Program will get an update to several guidelines, including giving bonus points on incentive and façade applications from minorities, women, and veterans.

“We believe it’s very important … to provide (for) individuals who may have had challenges in the past,” West said.

The proposal was placed on the consent agenda for next week’s legislative meeting.

Neighborhood Development Code on tap

Next week, Commissioners will hear a draft of a new Neighborhood Development Code update — a one-hour, consultant-produced presentation of a 475-page document.

West said the new code will be Internet-based and user-friendly, where anyone can find anything about their properties all in one place.

The presentation has been added to the agenda for next week’s legislative meeting.

FY21 Budget to get second reading, vote

Covington’s fiscal year ’21 budget will have a second reading and an official vote at next week’s legislative meeting.

With a projected $57,624,900 in expenditures and $55,971,932 in revenue, the budget will force commissioners to dip into reserve funds to the tune of $1.7 million to make ends meet. It’s a situation Mayor Meyer admitted he was not pleased with, but something he said they would have to do, given the city’s fiscal circumstances.

Rev. Leo Schmidt to be honored

Commissioners said they have prepared a resolution for next week to honor Rev. Leo Carl Schmidt. Schmidt, 91, of Fort Thomas and formerly of Cold Spring, passed away June 6 at Carmel Manor Nursing Home. Schmidt served as the pastor at St. Augustine Church from 1992-2015 and Chaplain of the Covington Police Department in 1998.

Next meeting

The next regularly-scheduled Covington Commission meeting will be a legislative meeting held at 6 p.m., June 23, 2020. Residents are encouraged to watch it online, and send in comments beforehand.

Meetings will be broadcast live through the TBNK’s cable and streaming outlets and available at:

Click here to watch the live commission meeting Tuesday

Click here to see on city’s website (click on “latest videos” just under the photos of the commissioners.

Or watch:
Fioptics channel 815
Spectrum Channel 203

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