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Covington, state nearing Brent Spence deal, includes stormwater fix, project liaison, street improvements

By Ryan Clark
NKyTribune reporter

There was a big addition to Tuesday night’s caucus meeting agenda — one that could have major implications on the future of the city’s involvement in the Brent Spence project, as well as its stormwater flooding issues.

The addition was two contracts added by Mayor Joseph U. Meyer for consideration to the agenda of the city’s regularly scheduled caucus meeting Tuesday night.

The contracts will cement the city’s partnership with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet during the entirety of the planned Brent Spence project. However, there are other highlights for the city, including:

• KYTC reimbursing the city up to $500,000 to hire a Covington Project Director to coordinate with them on the Brent Spence Bridge project for the next five years.

• A new storm sewer from Kyles Lanes and extending through the Willow Run watershed to the Ohio River

• A number of actions related to reduce traffic impacts during construction, including improvements  for the intersections of Fourth and Main and Fifth and Main Streets

• Tripling the funding for the Lewisburg Façade Grant program to $1.2 million.

In an email sent on Monday to city commissioners and staff, Mayor Meyer noted that perhaps the greatest incentive is that, “overall, (it gives) Covington a place at the table in the substantive decision-making for this project going forward.

“These contracts solidify the city’s role in the Brent Spence Bridge Corridor project going forward, and (they) offer the city the opportunity to help shape the project in a way to minimize the negative impacts of the project, and to protect and hopefully improve the quality of life for the city’s residents and businesses.”

It is a statement both Meyer and the Commission have been voicing for years, and — after years of effort — it seems like city officials have made a breakthrough.

The contracts will be placed on the regular agenda for next week’s legislative meeting, where — after a Commission vote — Meyer can sign and formally agree to the partnership. After that, Jim Gray, the secretary of KYTC, will sign.

“Once the Secretary signs, the Cabinet can load up into their payment system and send back a copy for our records, and it will be effective as of the start of the next fiscal year,” Meyer wrote to the Commission.

While the importance of the partnership cannot be overstated, it is also important not to overlook the stormwater improvement aspect of the agreement.

The Memorandum of Agreement between KYTC and the city states that “KYTC has initiated a study to evaluate measures to fully contain all drainage from the interstate within a separate stormwater conveyance system and eliminate discharges to the city’s combined sewer system beginning at Kyles Lane and extending through the Willow Run watershed to the Ohio River.”

It is thought that this new system will help alleviate the flooding issues faced by the Peaselburg neighborhood during intense storms.

Mayor Meyer said he will make a thorough presentation at next week’s legislative meeting.

“The overall impact of I-75 on this city and its future cannot be understated,” Meyer wrote in his email. “These contracts guarantee the city’s participation in the process.”

Budget will get first reading next week

Staff produced a draft of next year’s budget, which showed a projected total all funds revenue of $168,061,010, with a projected total all funds expenditures of $162,963,804.

The budget will get a first reading at next week’s legislative meeting.

Staff sets priorities for 2022-23

As stated in the city’s order:

“This list of City Commission Priorities reflects the highest priorities of the City of Covington Board of Commissioners for Fiscal Year 2022-2023 (July 1, 2022-June 30, 2023). The City Manager shall be responsible for overseeing completion of these priority action items and may delegate to senior staff and/or department heads responsibility for making recommendations to the Commission for addressing priority action items related to their respective departments and/or divisions”:

City Manager/Staff:

• New City Hall Facility
• Parking
• Records Management
• Brent Spence Bridge

City’s Service Departments:

• Wet lab for life sciences
• IRS: Finalize State TIF Designation
• Local 38 Contract Negotiations: address paramedic qualification requirement
• Formal adoption of Fire Department Policies by Commission
• Monitor and support ambulance supplemental pay program (CHFS)
• Develop and implement annual reports to Commission re: administration of shelter ordinance; short-term rentals; and rental dwelling licenses
• Implementation of Parks Master Plan
• Operationalize the Neighborhood Investment Partners as independent provider of affordable housing
• Relocate City Heights
• Identify sidewalk blocks needing repair and advise property owners about sidewalk maintenance responsibilities
• Conversion of Scott and Greenup to two-way streets
• AFSCME Contract Negotiations
• Continued implementation storm water backflow valve program
• MS4/Stormwater systemic improvement recommendations
• Recommendations for 15th Street Bridge improvements
• FOP Contract Negotiations

City’s Support Departments:

• IRS Site: Award engineering contract; Complete demolition; and Complete preliminary engineering work
• Covington Connect: Extend wireless service to other areas of the city
• Develop Covington Connect Management Plan re: data management and use as a communication vehicle
• Share implementation plan for options described in IT analysis
• Develop 3-5 Year plan for implementation of IT recommendations
• Identify outside service provider to support city IT operations
• Engage consulting services for overall review of Human Resources operations and policies
• Design and identify locations for Covington signs
• Complete Franchise Agreements for all utilities companies serving the city
• Manage city’s interest in Opioid Settlement
• Engage outside counsel to foreclose on tax and other city liens
• External review of Finance Department operations and policies
• Select new Financial Advisor
• Auditor RFP
• Implement database for city boards

Todd New Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Administrator

Commissioners voted to approve Logan Todd as the new Covington Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Administrator, effective June 3, 2022.

“With the resignation of the city’s current ABC Administrator, the city must appoint a new ABC administrator to oversee the city’s ABC program,” city documents say. “Assistant City Solicitor Logan Todd has assisted with the day-to-day administration of the ABC program and is qualified to take over the role.”

With Todd immediately needed on the job, Commissioners agreed to legislatively approve the appointment rather than waiting for next week.

Next Meeting

The next regularly scheduled Covington Commission meeting will be a legislative meeting held at 6 p.m., June 14, 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. J says:

    Mayor Joe Meyer and the employees and officers of Covington’s city government have done great work over these last five years. The Mayor’s knowledge and experience in many areas of public service have helped this administration operate city government honestly and effectively.

    Covington is clearly going in a great direction, thanks in large part to the ethics and professionalism of the local government.

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