A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Covington city commission starts reorganization discussions; city manager offers some options

By Ryan Clark
NKyTribune reporter

Frustrated with a lack of progress from the outside vendor they hired, the city recently asked its still relatively new City Manager to begin reorganizing the city’s organizational chart.

City Manager David Johnston, who was hired just three months ago, came up with his own early draft of a reorganization plan and presented it to commissioners Tuesday night, describing it as “a first cut as I see it.”

But he first referenced the past before saying how he would reorganize operations.

He detailed the “lean financial times” at the early part of the decade (where one commissioner told him how they “weren’t sure how they would make payroll”) before acknowledging the embezzlement scandal of 2014.

He said it would normally take about three years to get settled from something like that – which would lead up to 2017, where the city is “on better financial footing.” Still, there is a need to make sure services are provided for residents in the most cost-efficient manner, he said.

Covington commission meeting (Photo by Ryan Clark)

Among his changes, Johnston proposed creating a Neighborhood Services department, which would contain the city’s federal housing programs, code enforcement, parks and recreation department and solid waste program. He also called for legal and administrative programs to support the new department.

Along with the new organization were plans to increase the size of the city’s human resources department and create jobs for a grant writer (“to bring outside money into our operations,” he said) and a city ombudsman, which would serve as a point of contact for citizens who have questions.

Commissioner Bill Wells did wonder if Johnston had thought about how these new positions may fit into the city budget, and Johnston said he had not.

“I just want to start this discussion,” Johnston said about the reorganization. “I’m sure we’ll have other meetings to continue it.”

It was welcome news to the commissioners.

“This is a great jumping-off point that we can build from,” said Commissioner Jordan Huizenga.

In May, the Board of Commissioners hired consulting firm Municipal Solutions, LLC to study how the city may operate more efficiently.

City Manager David Johnson

According to the city website, Municipal Solutions Chief Executive Officer and Managing Principal David Evertsen said, “The purpose of the study is to create a culture of efficiency and effectiveness by first, working with staff and commission to identify opportunities for greater efficiency, then lay the groundwork for implementing much needed systems, tools and processes.”

In what some may call ironic, commissioners are still waiting for that report, which was expected to be turned in after 120 days. That would have been in October.

Johnston, who started as city manager on Aug. 21, came to Covington with more than 20 years of city administrative experience after serving as city manager of Maple Valley, Wash.


– Staff Accountants Jerome Heist and Caine Hughes presented a report on the first quarter general fund, which showed earnings of more than $18 million in revenue – which is about 30 percent of the revenue of the year.

– Heist and Hughes also reported on the final budget of the Devou Park Golf & Event Center, revealing that $5.72 million came from 2014 bond funds, while nearly $569,000 came from the Devou Park master plan and just over $97,000 came from Devou Prospectives Inc. That made for a total $6,386,498 – just under the approved $6.4 million budget – and no general fund money was used for the project.

– Commissioners heard an order to approve a contract between the city and Northern Kentucky University’s Center for Economic Development to study the economic contributions of the IRS facility at 200 W. Fourth St.

– Commissioners heard an order directing the city manager to investigate and advise the Board of Commissioners on the creation and location of a city dog park.

– Commissioners heard an order to approve a contract between the city manager and Northern Kentucky University’s Center for Economic Development to provide models, an executive summary and a comprehensive report “projecting five-year revenue forecasts for the city’s future general fund budgets.”

– Commissioners approved an ordinance to create the new position of Economic Development Director.

– Commissioners approved an ordinance to transfer all billing responsibilities for solid waste and recycling services from Rumpke back to the city, which should come at no added cost to residents, city officials said Tuesday.

The next Covington Commission meeting will be a caucus meeting held at 6 p.m., Dec. 5 at the Covington City Hall at 20 West Pike St.

Related Posts

Leave a Comment