A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Covington commission makes budget adjustment, agrees to opioid funding, discusses marketing, more

By Ryan Clark
NKyTribune reporter

Once again, the city has issued another amendment to its 2022 proposed budget.

This time, it’s to balance the budget, as the city heard a proposal to take $747,727 from its unassigned funds balance.

City Commissioners heard the most recent budget update at their regularly scheduled caucus meeting Tuesday night. Now, if approved, the total General Fund budget will be $63,780,817.

Dan Hassert, the city’s communications manager, explained that this has been an unusual year, what with COVID-19, a new city manager and other hires, and government funding that hasn’t been allocated yet.

“The city fully expects to make other updates to the budget as needed,” he said.

While Mayor Joseph U. Meyer seemed to express some frustration at the way things are progressing regarding the budget, he did say it would be better to approve the latest continuation and move forward.

The proposal will have a first reading at next week’s legislative meeting.

Opioid Funding

Commissioners heard a proposal to execute the Kentucky Local Governments’ Opioid Settlement Memorandum of Understanding.

In March 2021, the state enacted legislation for an “Opioid Abatement Trust Fund.” The Fund oversees the distribution of proposed settlements from Johnson and Johnson, as well as distributors McKesson, Cardinal Health, and Amerisource Berge.

The legislation splits 50 percent of the proceeds to the state and 50 percent to the counties and cities. But the legislation says the cities and counties must enter into an agreement establishing the local allocation.

This memorandum of understanding would serve that purpose — but it isn’t without controversy.

Mayor Meyer noted that Covington has spent much more money fighting opioids than the county, saying the city’s police respond to 2,000-plus drug-related calls per year.

“I know our community is getting the brunt of this problem,” Commissioner Ron Washington said.

Meyer said the city should sign the memorandum to move forward, but should also pressure the county and state to better reallocate the funds due to the overwhelmingly high number of opioid-related crimes in Covington.

“We absolutely have to be in position to get our fair share,” he said. 

Branding and marketing

Commissioners heard a proposal for an agreement with Durham Brand and Co. to provide branding and marketing services for the Economic Development Department.

The services — things like strategy, style guides and templates — will cost $92,750 ($46,375 of which will come from the General Fund, while $46,375 will come from the economic development fund).

Twenty-five percent ($23,187) will be due at the start, with five monthly installments of $13,912.

“I think you made an excellent decision,” said Commissioner Shannon Smith.

The proposal will be on next week’s regular agenda. 

Collective bargaining agreement

The Mayor heard a proposal to enter into a collective bargaining agreement with AFSCME, AFL-CIO, Local 237, covering the term from July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022.

The agreement would be for $465,922 — $371,339 from the ARPA fund, $85,987 from the general fund and $8,596 from the stormwater fund.

The proposal was placed on next week’s consent agenda.

Hirings and promotions

Commissioners heard proposals for these positions:

• Sheena Switzer, Parks & Recreation Administrative Assistant
• Samantha Meredith, Covington Police Cadet
• Assistant Chief Michael Bloemer to Deputy Chief of Operations
• Battalion Chief Corey Deye to Assistant Chief of Training
• Captain Joseph Bowman to Battalion Chief
• Lieutenant Daniel DeCarlo to Captain
• Engineer Dylan Meyer to Lieutenant
• Firefighter Jason Lauer to Engineer

The hirings were placed on next week’s consent agenda, while the promotions were set for the regular agenda.

Executive Session

After the meeting, Mayor Meyer said the Commission would go into Executive Session “for discussion of personnel.”

Meyer said no decisions would be made and the Commission would not reconvene.

Next meeting

The next regularly scheduled Covington Commission meeting will be a legislative meeting held at 6 p.m., Nov. 30, 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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