Southgate Mayor Jim Hamberg offers thoughts on issues ahead of election

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Jim Hamberg is the incumbent mayor of Southgate, who is running unopposed in this year’s election. LINK nky reached out to him to get his thoughts on the issues he thinks are most important for Southgate.

Note: responses have been edited for space and clarity.

LINK: Why are you running, and what would be your top priority if elected?

Jim Hamberg: “Service to humanity is the best work of life.” That is the last line of the Jaycee [link added] Creed. After serving as a member of the Campbell County Jaycees for 27 years, I realized that community service, especially to the community in which I live, is an important passion of mine. It was then and still is today. My top priorities have always been the safety and security of our residents as well as looking for ways to reduce taxes and increase our way of life through maintaining solid budgetary control, qualified public works, a strong police department and sound administration. 

LINK: What are some of the most pressing issues in the city, based on your conversations with people in Southgate?

Jim Hamberg: Work on Blossom Lane to remove the “hump” at the top of the hill. I’m hoping this will be under construction through the County sometime in late winter or early spring 2023 (Blossom is a County road). Another priority is to continue working with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Fort Thomas and Campbell County to find funding for improvements to the intersection of Blossom Lane and US-27.

Another pressing issue is the search for volunteers for our various boards. There is a definite need for residents to join with others who volunteer on the various boards in the city. Our Park and Tree Board is now inactive due to age and retirements. Many on that board served for 17 years. We are looking for residents to restart this Board. It met monthly to plan for our Arbor Day event with the school, look for grants and apply for our Tree City USA and Growth Award Certifications as well as announce the Green Thumb Awards to two of our residents for the beautiful growth on their property. Our Code Enforcement and Police Citation Review Board also need resident volunteers. They each meet once or twice a year or whenever a need arises. Please contact the City Office at (859)441-0075 if you would like to volunteer or require additional information. 

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We will continue to work on repairing and repaving city streets. So far over the last 16 years, the city has repaired eight streets with some at full depth and others with an overlay. Most projects take over a year to complete.

LINK: The city’s website was recently updated. What other measures do you hope to enact to keep city business accessible to local residents?

Other measures include publicizing information for meetings and minutes of meetings, public hearings, snow emergencies, street closures, public events and so on.

LINK: With the city assisting the Memorial Pointe development through the issuance of industrial revenue bonds (IRB), what other economic development tools would you like to see deployed by the local government to draw in both large and small development projects?

Jim Hamberg: The city provided an Industrial Revenue Bond (IRB) for the Class A Apartments for North American Properties only on the Memorial Pointe development site.  This is at no cost to the city through the term of the IRB. We will continue to listen to potential developers for ideas on various projects. This may involve other IRB proposals and/or Tax Incentive Funding (TIF). The city remains open for business and ready to hear from any developer interested in developing in Southgate.

LINK: With heightened concern around the region related to pedestrian and cyclist safety, what do you think should be done to improve this area in your city?

Jim Hamberg: Within the City, we will continue to monitor and control vehicle speed for safety on all of our streets. Southgate has one of the most experienced police departments in Northern Kentucky. Our Officers are committed to providing the highest level of safety for all residents and motorized and non-motorized transportation.

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We are working with the US-27 Corridor Study Committee. This committee is committed to providing non-motorized vehicle ideas and uses through the US-27 corridor. One of those ideas is to provide a bicycle lane from NKU to 3rd Street in Newport, bringing non-motorized vehicles to the levy and through stores and shops in the cities of Highland Heights, Fort Thomas, Southgate and Newport. I serve on this committee representing Southgate as well as representatives from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Campbell County, Highland Heights, Fort Thomas and Newport. Working together, especially for joint funding efforts, we intend to provide a non-motorized lane north and south through Southgate. This is planned for the next time the Transportation Cabinet repaves US-27 through Southgate. It is also hoped that during that time a sidewalk would be placed along US-27 linking the cities within the corridor.

LINK: Cities have benefited from federal funds to recover from the pandemic, but that one-time cash infusion is unlikely to happen again. What steps should be taken to ensure that the city remains on strong financial footing?

Jim Hamberg: We set up a separate account and budget for the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds from the general budget. The Administration, Public Work and Police Departments and the Southgate Volunteer Fire Department all submitted budget requests for both budgets. All departments and the Fire Department will continue to work within the policies and guidelines established for the ARPA Budget and General Fund budgets. This is how we operate year over year for the General Fund budget.

Finally, I would ask that anyone contact me at (859)441-0075 or (859)781-1658 with any questions or concerns. 

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Note: Incumbent candidates Joe Anderson, Paul Melville, Mark Messmer, Chris Robisch and Thomas Wegener are running for reelection but did not respond to request for comments.

Incumbent candidate Aileen Okura is running for reelection but declined to comment.

Challenger candidate for Southgate City Council Michael Lycans did not respond to request for comment.

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