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Covington commission approves COVID relief help with utilities, new hires, help with 419 Greenup

By Ryan Clark
NKyTribune reporter

COVINGTON – Just because it was brief doesn’t mean it was unimportant.

That was the message Mayor Joseph U. Meyer delivered to the residents of Covington Tuesday night at the Commission’s regularly scheduled legislative meeting.

With two of the Commissioners absent, the meeting clocked in at just about 20 minutes — but much was accomplished, Meyer said.

“Even though it was short, it was substantive,” he told the audience, before explaining what all was done. Agreements were made. Decisions were decided. Residents were appointed.

The last point was highlighted by Meyer, as he noted how important it was for residents to stand up and volunteer to serve Covington.

COVID Relief to Help with Utilities

Commissioners approved an agreement with the Northern Kentucky Community Action Commission for $175,000 to administer a Utility Assistance Program utilizing CDBG-CV funds.

That means the city will award funds to those who have been struggling to pay their utility bills due to COVID.

NKCAC has been selected by the Department for Local Government to administer a statewide utility assistance program using the state CDBG-CV funds, and Covington will award local CDBG-CV funds to the program, explained Commissioner Ron Washington last week.

Under the program, Covington households who have been financially affected by the COVID-19 crisis and are at risk of utility shutoff will be able to apply to NKCAC for up to $1,500 in assistance to pay overdue utility expenses (gas, electric, sewer and/or water).

Per the terms of the sub-recipient agreement, NKCAC will manage all aspects of the program, including program marketing, applicant intake, eligibility review, making payments directly to utility service providers and reporting program accomplishments.

The city will reimburse NKCAC for the payments made to the utility service providers as well as a 10 percent fee for program administration.

Anyone can apply for assistance, said Community Development Director Jeremy Wallace, who also noted there is no income cap.

Once an application is approved, NKCAC will submit payment directly to the utility service provider on behalf of the household. Households are eligible for assistance up to $250 per month for six consecutive months.

Those interested will go in-person to The Life Learning Center at 20 W. 18th St. for an application. Commissioners placed the proposal on the consent agenda for next week’s legislative meeting.

TIF for 419 Greenup

Commissioners approved an incentive to benefit RP Prop OZ, LLC, which submitted a TIF financial assistance application for up to $50,000 for sidewalk improvements to complement their $1.7 million historic renovation of 419 Greenup St.

“The $1.7 million renovation will completely update the façade, windows and undergo a full
interior remodel with all new mechanicals, fire suppression system and structural
improvements to create move-in-ready office space that will be available around December
2022,” a city memo states. “While the first floor will provide expanded event space for the Covington Yard development, the second and third floors will be marketed to office users that will help attract new payroll tax revenue to the city. Once completed, the 13,000-square-foot property comes with off-street parking spaces. As this is an opportunity zone project, the owner intends to own the property for many years.”

City staff estimated the commercial space will generate about $25,313 in payroll tax annually, which could pay back the city’s investment in two years.

“I think this is one of those things that’s very positive for our city,” Washington said.

Collective Bargaining Agreement with Firefighters

Commissioners approved a Collective Bargaining Agreement with Local 38 of the International Firefighters Association until June 30, 2022.

The cost will be paid from ARPA funds ($847,664) and the general fund ($406,761).

Stormwater Quality Management Plan

Commissioners approved the Storm Water Quality Management Plan (SWQMP) for Covington’s MS4 and reduction of MS4 boundaries to exclude combined sewer areas. Three weeks ago, Commissioners heard a presentation on the same topic.

Now, the Kentucky Division of Water will, according to city documents, “establish the future requirements for Covington to be MS4 compliant. The emphasis remains to seek to preserve stormwater monies to combat flooding and other stormwater issues.”

New Hires

Commissioners approved the hiring of two new positions:

• Tyler Wilson, Recreation Program Coordinator
• Logan Todd, Assistant City Solicitor

Board Appointments

Commissioners approved these appointments:

• Code Enforcement Hearing Board – Donald Mays
• Covington Urban Forestry Board – Lindsey Moon
• Covington Urban Forestry Board – Nichole Benning
• Devou Park Advisory Committee – Aaron Wolpert

Downing, Smith absent

Commissioners Tim Downing and Shannon Smith were both absent Tuesday night.

Next Meeting

The next regularly scheduled Covington Commission meeting will be a caucus meeting held at 6 p.m., Nov. 23, 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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