A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

City of Covington close to IRS demolition agreement, defines ‘buckets’ for distribution of rescue plan funds

By Ryan Clark
NKyTribune reporter

COVINGTON – It’s time for the city of Covington to get buckets. And that’s just what they did Tuesday night at their regularly scheduled caucus meeting.

But we’re not talking about basketball, we mean categories — as in, the categories the city will use to determine how to divide its nearly $36 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding.

Ken Smith, the City Manager, distributed a memo to the Commission explaining how the city received $35,914,130 in Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery ARPA Funds by the Federal Government in May 2021.

The first batch of funds, $17,957,065, came last June. The second is expected in June 2022. The deadline for the city’s ARPA plan must be reported to the Treasury by Jan. 31, 2022. But, Smith said, the plan can still be modified after that.

The city just had to get started — and that’s what Smith’s memo did Tuesday night.

“During the last five months, input was solicited from residents and businesses, as well as city staff and elected leaders about how to invest these funds over the coming years,” he wrote. “We also evaluated options to make the most impact in city neighborhoods and to strengthen the city’s finances for the long term.”

Here’s their first recommendation at dividing the funds into 11 buckets:

Summary of ARPA Funding Recommendations 

• Affordable Housing Programs and Projects – $3,350,000
• Essential Worker Pay – $2,545,000
• City Operations – $1,455,000
• Replace Lost City Revenues- $12,500,000
• Community Outreach and Participation – $80,000
• Expand and Monetize Covington Connect Wi-Fi – $455,000
• Job Creation and Expansion – $375,000
• Neighborhood Projects in Qualified Neighborhoods – $2,379,130
• Improve Quality of Life and Public Health – $3,750,000
• Small Business Assistance – $7,600,000
• Social Services for Residents – $1,425,000

Total: $35,914,130

“Once the overall ARPA budget is approved by ‘bucket’ or category, staff will develop specific programs with the necessary guidelines for approval by the Board of Commissioners,” Smith said. “Many of the projects will require the city to follow its procurement process before contracts can be approved.”

Next, the Commission, along with other “outside stakeholders,” will provide their feedback for programs and projects.

But first, there had to be the buckets. They will be on the regular agenda at next week’s legislative meeting.

City Close to IRS Demo Agreement

Smith, the City Manager, then told Commissioners that the city was close to coming to an agreement with O’Rourke Wrecking Company for demolition of the IRS site.

After releasing a request for proposals in late November, the city considered four proposals, Smith said.

It was not certain when the demolition would begin, but the project is supposed to last eight months, and involve:

• Removing environmental hazards.

• Salvaging the site.

• Demolition.

• Site regrading and backfill.

The city will then begin the process of selecting an engineering firm to draw up designs for the “horizontal infrastructure” on the site, including streets, sidewalks, and utilities.
Smith told Commissioners that he will try to finish up the deal in the next couple of days, and that if he can, it will be ready for next week’s legislative meeting.

If not, it would be ready for the following legislative meeting three weeks from now.

Skillbridge Military Program

Human Resources Director Cindy Lewis presented a proposed agreement between the city, the state, the Department of Criminal Justice Training, and the Kentucky Law Enforcement Council to participate in the Skillbridge Military to Law Enforcement Program.

Skillbridge assists active duty military members to transition from military service to civilian careers, as military members in their last six months of active service can participate in attending the police training academy.

Lewis said this will save the city up to six months training time and $18,000 per officer.

The agreement will be on next week’s consent agenda.

Streetscape project extensions

Steetscape project extensions were requested for:

• 7th Street project
• Madison Ave. project

Both are to be extended to June 30, 2022, due to the KYTC needing to complete their final reviews. Both were put on next week’s consent agenda.

New hires

New hires were submitted for:
• Patrick Duffy, Business Retention and Expansion Specialist


Resignations were submitted for:
• Jeri Asher, Code Enforcement Inspector
• Kelly Olszewski, Housing Choice Voucher Representative

Board appointment

An appointment was submitted for:
• Alicia Revely, Telecommunication Board of Northern Kentucky

All were placed on the consent agenda for next week. 

Williams apologizes

At the end of the meeting, Commissioner Michelle Williams said she wanted to extend an apology — to the City Manager, Smith.

She said she apologized for not voting to approve his being hired as full-time city manager. Last September, Smith was hired, after he served as interim city manager for nearly three months.

At the time, Williams did not approve — not because of the candidate, but because of the process of the hiring, she said. She reiterated that Tuesday night, before praising Smith’s performance.

“It’s been weighing heavy on me,” she said. “As city manager, I think you’re doing an even better job. I wanted to tell you, personally, here — I made a mistake.”

Smith accepted and said he thought nothing of it.

Next Meeting

The next regularly scheduled Covington Commission meeting will be a legislative meeting held at 6 p.m., Jan. 25, 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.

Related Posts

Leave a Comment