A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Covington commission discuss ARPA, Juneteenth holiday, vacant and surplus properties, more

By Ryan Clark
NKyTribune reporter

ARPA stands for the American Rescue Plan Act, and the city of Covington has $35.9 million to spend over the next three years because of it.

Commissioners voted 4-1 at their regular legislative meeting Tuesday night to meet and discuss how to spend that money on Saturday, Oct. 23.

Originally, the city was supposed to have an ARPA plan drafted for the federal government by Oct. 31, but that date has been postponed to Jan. 31.

Commissioners and Mayor Joseph U. Meyer debated whether or not a meeting would be useful, specifically if citizens had been able to suggest what they think should be done with the funds.

For the past month, the city has been advertising to the public (over the Internet, in email blasts, through the media and on social media) giving them the opportunity to state their opinions.

Still, others felt that some people may not have received the chance to comment.

The Mayor, specifically, wondered if a weekend meeting, one without the public or television coverage, would be the best use of their time. He also wondered if it would be organized.

“This tells me we need to have this meeting,” said Commissioner Ron Washington. “I think we’re behind the 8-ball in not engaging the public.”

He noted that he thinks they should develop a communication plan directed toward those people who will be affected most by the funds, and ask them what they think should be done with the money.

Juneteenth Holiday Proposal

Washington also asked city staff to consider making Juneteenth a holiday for city employees – much like Newport has done.

Juneteenth is a holiday celebrated on June 19 to commemorate the emancipation of enslaved people in America. The holiday was first celebrated in Texas, where after the Civil War, slaves were freed after the Emancipation Proclamation.


Williams said she will try to recruit support for Kentucky to pass CROWN legislation, or Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural hair.

This Act ensures protection from discrimination based on race-based hairstyles like braids, locs, twists and knots.

“If Nebraska can do this, Kentucky can get this passed,” she said.

Vacant Property Initiative Approved

Commissioners approved the use of the Vacant Property Initiative for 533 Pike St. to CB Property Holdings, LLC.

Economic Development Director Tom West described how the building has been sitting vacant for more than two years, and how the new owners intend to renovate for office development.

This fits into the city’s economic development strategy, which called for new office product and enhancements to Covington’s gateways. Due to the city’s low vacancy rate, Covington was recommended to “develop and invest in real estate product for the city” to create move-in-ready commercial space for new businesses.

CB Property Holdings, LLC, will pay $337,000 to renovate, West said. The city staff is proposing a 1.25 percent payroll incentive for all the new jobs they attract to the building. Once the tax is collected on those employees, 1.25 percent will go back to the developer to help retire the debt on the renovation cost.

It is estimated that the developers will get about $61,250, while the city will still get $58,800.

West said CB Property Holdings, LLC, are in discussions with a non-profit and small law firm and hope to retain the existing property management firm that is currently leasing a space in the building.

The Vacant Property Initiative was first utilized over the summer.

“We think this tool will help sweeten challenging rehab projects and add vibrancy and momentum to Covington’s neighborhoods by helping us attract new restaurants, bars, entertainment, boutiques, and new office users,” said Ross Patten, assistant director of Economic Development in Covington.

Property sale and redevelopment

Commissioners approved an order to declare city-owned property at 1108 and 1110 Locust St. as surplus, and to also authorize Mayor Joseph U. Meyer to sign a Disposition and Development Agreement with Bean Wesdorp, LLC, for their sale and redevelopment.

The city acquired the properties in 2006 using CDBG funds for the purpose of blight removal.

On March 23, the city issued a Request for Proposals for their sale and redevelopment. The Board approved Bean Wesdorp, LLC, on Aug. 10.

Bean Wesdorp, LLC, plans to purchase the properties for $20,000, and invest $300,000 to create a single-family home.

The proposal was approved 4-0, with Commissioner Michelle Williams present but not voting due to a conflict of interest.

Hires and resignations

• Covington Police were approved to hire applicant Zachary Stayton as an officer. His start date is Oct. 17. This brings the department up to 109 of 114 authorized officers.

• Commissioners also approved Firefighter and Paramedic Jay Feldkamp’s resignation, effective Oct. 3.

Hybrid work policy approved

Commissioners approved a hybrid work policy for city staff.

“Due to the rise in COVID-19 cases, eligible employees have been encouraged to work a hybrid and/or remote work schedule to create a safe and functioning work environment,” city documents say. “We encourage everyone to consider 2021 a transitional year for this policy.”

Cindy Lewis, the city’s Human Resources Director, said it will allow the staff to “pivot” to remote work if needed.

“The default position is to work from the office,” City Manager Ken Smith said last week. “This is ‘as necessary,’ a case-by-case basis.”

PDS inspection agreement

The Commission also approved a proposal for the Planning and Department Services of Kenton County to inspect the installation of new stormwater systems. Prior to the transfer of stormwater maintenance responsibilities to the city, PDS inspected the installations, and to eliminate the possibility of redundancy, the city thought it a good idea for them to keep doing it.

Next Meeting

The next regularly scheduled Covington Commission meeting will be a caucus meeting held at 6 p.m., Oct. 19, at the City Building at 20 W. Pike St. in Covington. 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.

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