A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Covington commission hears first reading on MS4 fees, re-enters into swim contract for pool season

By Ryan Clark
NKyTribune reporter

Covington Commissioners met for their regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday night, held virtually because of COVID-19.

First, the Commissioners held a special legislative meeting, and during this meeting there was only one item on the agenda: A first reading to establish the ordinance for the fee structure of the takeover of the MS4 program.

What’s that? In 2003, SD1 and the city agreed to the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (or MS4) permit. “Because we are co-permittees, we have to legally part ways with SD1 in order to proceed on our own for MS4 management,” current city documents say. And in August 2020, 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) storm water 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 storm water permit program.”

In December, the Commission approved the storm water separation agreement. And because of the approval, the city needs to get this done as soon as possible, which meant a need for the special legislative meeting.

Mayor Joseph U. Meyer explained that no vote would be taken on the issue Tuesday night. A first reading is exactly that — a reading, which gives the general public an opportunity to look at the proposal on the city website and make comments to Commissioners, if anyone wished to do so. Then, at the next regular legislative meeting Feb. 23, Commissioners can discuss and vote on the proposed new ordinance.

“We’re not going to take any vote on this tonight,” Mayor Joseph U. Meyer said. “If you have any questions, get in touch with us.”

Lease renewal

Then the Commissioners adjourned from the special legislative meeting, and reconvened into their regular caucus meeting, where they discuss ideas and proposals. For instance, they heard two five-year lease renewals for the Kentucky Career Center at 1324 Madison Ave.

The Commonwealth of Kentucky, for $1,386,678 ($277,336 annually)
Northern Kentucky Area Development District for $997,900 ($199,580 annually)

Since 2013, the city has leased to the tenants to provide employment services. NKADD subleases to three tenants — Brighton Center, Goodwill and the Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky (TANK). There is still 410 square feet of vacant office space remaining.

After covering all expenses, the city then transfers the remaining revenue to Fund 21, which supports economic development in Covington, city Economic Development Director Tom West said. About $1.65 million was contributed to the fund during the first lease term.

Design guidelines

The city heard a proposed ordinance to update the Historic Covington Design Guidelines.

The current guidelines were adopted in 2014, and according to the city’s proposal, “members of the former Urban Design Review Board, members of the public, and consultants on the Neighborhood Development Code have advised staff of deficiencies in the current Guidelines.”

Updates include: correcting of typos, adding language to reference the new Neighborhood Development Code, and providing more information on topics like alternative materials and small accessory structures.

On Jan. 7, the Kentucky Heritage Council has reviewed and recommended approval of the updates. At a Jan. 20 public hearing, the Board of Architectural Review and Development voted to recommend that the Board of Commissioners approve the updates.

The proposed ordinance will have a first reading next week.

Swimming contract

The city heard a proposal to re-enter into a contract with Swimsafe Pool Management, Inc., which would be for two years, with three other optional years, and cost:

$183,600 for year one
$186,050 for year two

So, does this mean the city will definitely have an open pool season this year? Not exactly, but it looks promising.

“Overall, we’re excited to potentially have a pool season in 2021 and moving forward,” said new Parks & Recreation Manager Ben Oldiges. “It should be, pretty much, a greenlight-go regardless.”

Still, Oldiges said there are provisions in place to void the contract if COVID-19 restrictions prevent the city from being able to have pool season.

The contract was put on the consent agenda for next week.

Emergency Operations provision proposal

City administrators are asking for a contract with Tetra Tech for an Emergency Operations Provision Plan that will further define what responsibilities the city will have during emergency events.

The Mayor is backing this idea because there have been recent events (the crash on the Brent Spence Bridge, and the COVID-19 pandemic) that have resulted in the city of Covington utilizing its police and other resources while having virtually no decision-making power over how the situations were resolved.

The Mayor said he was not overly thrilled about the price tag of the third-party’s plan, which would run about $55,000, but said he did support the idea of Covington getting “a seat at the table,” in terms of making decisions during crises.

The proposal was put on the regular agenda next week.

Firefighter physicals

Commissioners heard a proposal from the Fire Department for St. Elizabeth to perform annual physicals on the firefighters. St. Elizabeth was the only provider that would perform the services on site due to COVID-19. Firefighter physicals were included in the approved fire department budget, and would cost $255 apiece, plus additional testing if needed.

The proposal was put on the consent agenda for next week. 


Commissioners heard a proposal for the resignation of Officer Ryan Eldridge on March 1. Eldridge, who has been employed by the Covington Police Department for 14 years, is resigning to pursue a career outside of law enforcement. It was put on consent for next week.

Mayor Meyer made sure to thank the Public Works Department for its efforts to battle the recent bout of wintry weather.

“You’ve done a great job of keeping our roads passable,” he said.

Commissioners then went into executive session to discuss topics dealing generally with the topics of personnel, specifically with “discipline” or “dismissal” of personnel.

Mayor Meyer said the Commission would not conduct any more business after the session Tuesday night.

Next meeting

The next regularly scheduled Covington Commission meeting will be a legislative meeting held at 6 p.m., Feb. 23. The meetings 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.

Related Posts

Leave a Comment