A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Commission to state House: Covington needs ‘seat at the table,’ takes issue with proposed redistricting

By Ryan Clark
NKyTribune reporter

A firm ‘No.’

That’s what the City of Covington is saying in response to the Kentucky House of Representatives redrawing of legislative boundaries to reflect population shifts, and — says the city — “split(ing) the 65th District into many parts, diluting the Covington urban core’s voice, and virtually eliminating its representation among the General Assembly’s 138 members.”

Commissioners considered the issue so important that they interrupted their regularly scheduled caucus meeting Tuesday night to pass a resolution calling for “the Northern Kentucky Legislative Caucus to work quickly and collectively to adjust the boundaries of the House districts in Northern Kentucky to maintain a Covington-centric district.”

The House of Representatives introduced a plan Tuesday, Mayor Joseph U. Meyer explained, that would result in Covington not having a legislative district.

“The House redistricting plan says our voice is irrelevant,” he said. “At least give us a chance for our voice to be heard.”

He went on to explain how there are issues that are special to Covington, like poverty, affordable housing, economic development, and diversity, equity, and inclusion — issues that need a voice to explain why they are particularly relevant to the area. But he also explained how Covington issues could affect cities across the region, such as how former Rep. Arnold Simpson successfully argued for a toll ban on the Brent Spence Bridge.

“We need to be in position to argue these perspectives,” Meyer said. “To cut our community out is a disservice to all others.”

So, the resolution petitions the “Speaker of the House and House Leadership to create legislative boundaries that formally protect Covington’s legislative representation with a Covington-centric House district.”

Mayor Meyer said he hoped all Northern Kentucky cities would reject the plan.

By a unanimous vote of 5-0, the resolution was adopted.

City considers adding Juneteenth as holiday for non-union employees

Tuesday night, City Manager Ken Smith proposed adding Juneteenth as a paid holiday for non-union city employees (it would not be included in the current union contracts).

Juneteenth — which is a holiday celebrated on June 19 to commemorate the emancipation of enslaved people — was made a federal holiday in 2021.

Immediately, Commissioners debated if the holiday should be added to the calendar or if it should replace another holiday.

Commissioner Michelle Williams said it should just be added to the calendar.

Mayor Meyer said there should be some kind of replacement, and City Manager Smith suggested switching out the holiday with Presidents Day, which is the third Monday in February (this year that would be Feb. 21). Most everyone agreed, and the proposal will be on next week’s consent agenda.

Smith confirmed that if approved, this would go into effect for this year — meaning, next month.

Two Rivers development

Commissioners heard proposals to enter into agreements with Covington Kentucky Development, LLC, for the redevelopment of 525 Scott St., for the issuance of Industrial Revenue Bonds, as well as a Memorandum of Agreement and a Payment in Lieu of Taxes Agreement related to the project.

Developers want to recreate the space into a 68,550 square-foot class-A office and commercial space.

The total amount of money necessary to be provided by the Company for the acquisition, construction, equipping and installation of the Project to be financed by the bonds will not exceed $13 million, and the term of the bonds shall be for a 30-year term (Pilot increases every 10 years – 20 percent; then 25 percent; then 40 percent).

“We have a very empty cart right now,” said Economic Development Director Tom West. “Right now, we need more office space.”

Both the development agreement and the bond agreement were placed on the consent agenda for next week.

“I’m happy this is happening now,” Commissioner Williams said.

New hires

New hires for approval next week include:
• Ryan Jones, police officer
• Scott Owen, full-time code inspector.

Both will be on the consent agenda next week.


Resignations for approval next week include:

• Jo Ann Simpson, Human Resources Director
• Suzann Gettys, Business Retention and Expansion Specialist
• Abbey King, administrative assistant for Parks and Recreation
• Jess Link, Recreation Program Coordinator.

All will be on the consent agenda next week.

Davidson proposed for City Solicitor

Mayor Meyer said local attorney David Davidson will be considered as the new City Solicitor. The proposal will be on next week’s legislative regular agenda.

Commissioner Shannon Smith wanted to note that while she felt Davidson is a “brilliant attorney,” she also said she disagreed with the hire “for procedural reasons.”

“I just don’t think the fit was there,” she said. She noted she was disappointed that other candidates were not pursued.

Disc Golf presentation next week

Ben Oldiges, the city’s Parks and Recreation Manager, got approval for a presentation next week on Disc Golf.

Mayor Meyer and Commissioner Tim Downing said they will be interested to know how much the sport will cost and where the money will come from, etc. 

10 more cars for police fleet

Commissioner Ron Washington asked the City Manager if he could come up with a plan to purchase 10 new fully equipped police cars for the fleet.

This would include a budget amendment as well.

Commissioners made a motion for this action, which was approved unanimously.

OKI Board of Trustees

Commissioner Williams volunteered to be the city’s representative on the OKI Board of Trustees. Mayor Meyer said if the move needs to be approved, they could do so at next week’s legislative meeting.

Next meeting

The next regularly scheduled Covington Commission meeting will be a legislative meeting held at 6 p.m., Jan. 11, 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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One Comment

  1. Carol Aquino says:

    Coverage of Covington’s potential loss of influence in General Assembly is essential. Hope voters are paying attention.

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