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Covington, SD1 close to agreement on stormwater; discuss community cats, surplus property, more

By Ryan Clark
NKyTribune reporter

Mayor Joe Meyer waited until the very end of a lengthy caucus commission meeting to deliver what seemed to be some of his most satisfying news of the night.

Near the end of the city’s regular caucus (again held virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions) Meyer reported that Covington and Sanitation District lawyers have been negotiating for a long while on how the city can reclaim control of its stormwater program.

And there is positive news.

“I want to give everybody just a brief update on Sanitation District No. 1 and the city’s efforts to discontinue participation in the Separate Storm Sewer Systems program,” he said. “Our lawyers have been negotiating with the Sanitation District’s lawyers for quite some time …. The negotiations have taken a positive turn lately, and if the proposed transfer agreements are consistent with what the lawyers have been talking about, the transfer agreement could be finalized by year’s end.”

Even the Mayor said he was surprised by the good news.

“We’re much closer to reaching an agreement than I fully anticipated,” he noted.

In August, the city put the Sanitation District on notice.

“The city and SD1, through various agreements, have partnered to administer the city’s MS4 (or Separate Storm Sewer Systems program) stormwater permit program since 2003,” city documents read. “There have been significant problems with the current relationship and recent attempts to improve the relationship or reach a mutually agreeable separation solution have stalled. City staff believes residents would be better served by the city regaining sole responsibility for its MS4 stormwater permit program.”

At the time, Meyer said that since 2003, the residents of Covington have paid $27 million in stormwater fees and have gotten little in return.

“It’s clear that Covington issues are not a priority (for SD1),” Meyer said then. “They’ve overlooked their public health responsibilities.”

So instead, Covington would like to reclaim responsibility, which would in essence give the city control of the use of the stormwater fees. Then they could decide how to best use the funds.

It looks as though they are now one step closer.

“That’s a good thing and a very important thing for our community,” Meyer said Tuesday night.

Surplus properties

Also Tuesday, the city proposed selling two more surplus properties.

The city acquired 316 Altamont Road in 1992 and 344 Altamont Road in 1998. Both have remained vacant and contribute nothing to economic, social or aesthetic value of the neighborhood, said Ken Smith, the city’s neighborhood services director.

In October, a Kentucky certified appraiser valued the properties to be worth:

• $4,500 for 316 Altamont Road
• $5,000 for 344 Altamont Road

City staff recommended the property be sold at the appraised value to Mount Martre
LLC, which plans on developing in the area, Smith said.

The commission decided to include the proposal on the regular agenda next week.

Mayor Joe Meyer

HONK rehab

Commissioners also heard a proposal for the Housing Opportunities of Northern Kentucky (HONK) to rehab a single-family home at 2744 Latonia Ave. for $194,772, payable from Program Year 2020 HOME Community Housing Development Organization (CHDO) Development Project funds.

“HONK will rehab the home using professional and volunteer labor and will sell the home to an income-qualified household through their lease-purchase program,” city documents read. “This project will reduce blight, re-occupy a formerly vacant property, and create an affordable homeownership opportunity for low-income families.”

Commissioners put the proposal on the consent agenda for next week.

Learning Grove

Commissioners heard a proposal by city staff to continue the operation of Learning Grove, Inc., located on the IRS site. Learning Grove has provided child care services for federal employees since 2008, but when the IRS Center was closed, Learning Grove entered into a license agreement with the General Services of America of the U.S. Government.

When the city purchased the property, that relationship ended, and the city has decided to keep the child care center running, charging the business $2,000 a month for rent of the space.

Commissioners put the proposal on the consent agenda for next week.

Animal control

Commissioners heard a proposal to incorporate Kenton County’s new stray animal regulations pertaining to community cats into the city’s ordinances.

In February, Kenton County revised and re-enacted its animal control ordinance to, among other things, address the management of the community cat population.

Incorporating these into the city code will address Kenton County Animal Services’ Trap-Neuter-Return program, define a community cat, authorize a caretaker for community cats and set out the requirements for anyone acting as a caretaker.

As an example, the definition of a community cat is as follows: “Any free-roaming cat that may be cared for by one of more residents of the immediate area who is/are known. A community cat may or may not be feral. Community cats are distinguished from other cats by being sterilized and ear-tipped. Community cats that have been ear-tipped, sterilized and vaccinated under the Trap-Neuter-Return Program are exempt from any licensing, stray, or at-large provisions of this ordinance.”

The amended ordinance will get a first reading next week.

Vehicles purchased

The Department of Public Works asked to purchase eight SUVs for $347,654.10 and two trucks for $277,711 — both of which were already budgeted.

The request was put on next week’s consent agenda.


Commissioner Michelle Williams proposed the idea of raises of up to $50 for code enforcement workers, whom she said “bring in a lot of money for the city.” She asked that the commission consider the request.

Mayor Meyer congratulated Williams, as well as Commissioners Tim Downing and Shannon Smith, on their re-elections to the commission, while also welcoming newcomer Ron Washington, who will join Jan. 1.

Meyer then announced the commission would enter into an executive session, to discuss the acquisition of real estate, and to discuss the appointment or dismissal of personnel. He said when the commission reconvened, no further action would be taken.

Next meeting

The next regularly scheduled Covington Commission meeting will be a legislative meeting held at 6 p.m., Nov. 17, 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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