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Covington commission delays final vote on short-term rentals; fire department gets grant

By Ryan Clark
NKyTribune reporter

After the city’s legal department requested a change in language, a much-talked about amendment on short-term rentals will take even more time before receiving a final vote.

Last week, Commissioners listened to more than a dozen residents who came out to voice their opinions on the amendment, which would include a one-year prohibition on any operator of a short-term rental without a license from applying for a license for one year.

But Commissioners decided to pass the issue to this week, due to “changes” that needed to be made, according to the city’s legal department.

“We got a request from the city attorney late this afternoon that he would like to suggest some changes to it,” Mayor Joseph U. Meyer said last week.

But, after the changes were applied this week, it was the city’s opinion that it was a completely new amendment, one that would have to go through the legislative process again. And so, it will.

As commissioners met at their regularly scheduled caucus meeting Tuesday night, it was decided the amendment would again be placed on the agenda for a first reading at next week’s legislative meeting. Without a special call, a vote would then take place after a second reading, which would be three weeks from now.

Last week, the Mayor once again reiterated why the city had come to this point.

“There were a large number of complaints,” he said, regarding the behavior of tenants in rental facilities, while people were not getting their licenses. “We’re in a situation where I think as today, we have 40 people who are licensed — and we have over 400 others who are advertising on various rental sites.”

“So, it’s only people who aren’t licensed who have been affected by this,” he continued, while noting that in the future, the city “wants to come up with a plan that is equitable and fair to the neighborhoods and to the residents of our community and to the investors.”

FEMA Safer Grant

On Feb. 9, the Fire Department was notified that it has been awarded the FY21 Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grant (SAFER) grant, for $1,551,348.20 to fund four new firefighters, raising staffing from 122 to 126.

“The purpose of the SAFER Grant Program is to provide funding directly to fire departments and volunteer firefighter interest organizations to assist in increasing the number of firefighters to help communities meet industry minimum standards and attain 24-hour staffing to provide adequate protection from fire and fire-related hazards, and to fulfill traditional missions of fire departments,” stated the award letter, which was written by Pamela Williams, Assistant Administrator, Grant Programs, of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

“After careful consideration, FEMA has determined that the recipient’s project or projects submitted as part of the recipient’s application and detailed in the project narrative as well as the request details section of the application ― including budget information ― was consistent with the SAFER Grant Program’s purpose and was worthy of award.”

Covington Police Chief Mark Pierce credited Battalion Chief Joe Bowman and captain Andy Schultz, who — along with others over the last eight years — have successfully written grants which have earned more than $6 million.

The request to accept the grant was placed on next week’s consent agenda.

SwimSafe Pool Management

Commissioners heard a proposal for an order approving a $270,000 contract with SwimSafe Pool Management for the 2023 Summer Pool Season.

The contract would include the management and operation of Randolph Pool, Goebel Pool and the Latonia Waterpark for the 2023 pool season. This contract will be for the 2023 Summer Pool season and includes options for the next four years.

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

Parks and Rec Programming Guide

Next week, at the beginning of the legislative meeting, the Parks and Recreation Department will give an oral presentation regarding their 2023 programming guide.

Rules and Procedures

Toward the end of Tuesday’s meeting, Mayor Meyer decided to give a little civic lesson, reviewing the rules and procedures the city has been using for the last six years.

“There have been some questions and issues raised so I thought it would be helpful if we reviewed some of the Commission rules, so we can offer some context for the way that we operate the Commission meetings in way of background,” he said.

The Commission reviewed things like:

• The process by which ordinances are approved
• When Commissioners can discuss issues and vote
• What approvals are needed for motions

“One of my favorite (rules), it’s just a reminder that all of the decisions by the chair — that would be the mayor or the vice mayor if he’s in the chair — are subject to appeal,” Mayor Meyer said. “So, any two commissioners can make a motion to appeal the ruling of the chair.”

Next Meeting

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