A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

City postpones talk of priority-based budgeting, transfers two pieces of field artillery to Elsmere

By Ryan Clark
NKyTribune reporter

Calling it the “most unusual item” he’s had to bring before the city Commission, Neighborhood Services Director Ken Smith asked permission from the Mayor Tuesday night to execute an agreement with the city of Elsmere to transfer two pieces of field artillery, which are currently located at the Montague entrance of Devou Park.

The two field artillery pieces have sat at the entrance to the park for years as part of a war memorial, Smith said. And while they sit on city-owned property, they were actually sponsored by the former Park Hills VFW post, which was located across the street. But when the VFW closed, the Elsmere VFW approached Covington and asked if they could relocate the artillery to their space.

“Staff asked the VFW post in Latonia, but they indicated they were not interested,” Smith said.

Because the memorial honored those who died from the VFW post, the city felt it best to allow the pieces to be displayed at another VFW post.

In addition to the artillery pieces, there is also a small bronze plaque with the inscription: “Lest we forget, to honor the members of this post killed in the service of their country, 1941-1945.” The plaque will go to the Covington VFW.

The request was presented during the Commission’s regularly scheduled caucus meeting Tuesday night, which was again held remotely due to COVID-19 restrictions. Commissioners agreed to the transfer and the request was put on the consent agenda for next week’s legislative meeting. 

Priorities-based budgeting put on hold

For the better part of a year, Covington has hoped to move forward with what is known as “priority-based budgeting,” which officials explain as an innovative approach that helps match available resources to programs and services that best meet community needs.

This, proponents say, leads to better-formed decisions and more meaningful public engagement. More than 300 cities across the nation and Canada use the process.

Tuesday night, the Commission heard a presentation from Chris Fabian, CEO of Resource X, a vendor that provides software tools and guidance to aid cities in their priority-based budgeting.

In a lengthy presentation and discussion that included Fabian, City Manager David Johnston and Finance Director Muhammed Owusu, the trio explained the idea of priority-based budgeting and how Resource X would be the best to provide the services and training.

City officials proposed a three-year deal with Resource X, which would cost $40,000 for initial startup, training and software, plus $15,000 each year for updates and support.

And while most Commissioners seemed agreeable with the idea, they were not certain that the city was necessarily ready to make the jump. Mayor Joseph U. Meyer expressed concern with the timetable — both how long it would take to implement and how much time would take city staff away from their day-to-day jobs.

Fabian made sure to note that his company could work with the city, and the project could move at the desired pace of the commissioners. Still, it seemed a heavy undertaking for Mayor Meyer.

“I like the concept,” he said. “But if we’re going to do this, we need to do it right.”

He went on to say that he felt the city was just not ready. Yet.

Instead, commissioners decided to table the idea with the intent to discuss it more in the near future.

Promotions and Appointments

• Margaret Volkering will be appointed to Payroll Specialist
• Sandy Shoemaker will be appointed to full-time Finance Technician
• Ross Patten will be appointed to Assistant Director of Economic Development
• Ella Frye will be appointed to the Renaissance Covington Board

All will be on the consent agenda next week.

Second reading of ordinances

Next Tuesday, the Commission will hear second readings of these ordinances:

• Amend Chapter 94 repealing Urban Forestry subchapter
• Create Chapter 51, Urban Forestry
• Amend Chapter 32 creating Urban Forestry Board

Smith unable to continue meeting

About halfway through the meeting, Commissioner Shannon Smith lost her remote signal and was unable to continue. She texted Commissioner Tim Downing and told him to tell the group to continue on without her, so they did.

The next regularly-scheduled Covington Commission meeting will be a legislative meeting held at 6 p.m., Aug. 25, 2020. The meeting can be followed live on Fioptics channel 815, Spectrum channel 203, the Telecommunications Board of Northern Kentucky (TBNK) website, the TBNK Facebook page @TBNKonline, and the TBNK Roku channels.

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