Covington city commission approves 2022-23 fiscal year priorities list

Kenton Hornbeck
Kenton Hornbeck
Kenton is a reporter for LINK nky. Email him at [email protected]

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At the end of each fiscal year, the Covington city commission adopts a priorities list that identifies the most important things they want to accomplish the following year. This time around, they include a new City Hall facility, parking, and the Brent Spence Bridge, among other things.

The new fiscal year will begin on July 1 and end on June 30, 2023.

Every item on the list can’t be feasibly accomplished during the next fiscal year, so the list ranges from short-term to long-term actions the city plans to tackle. Items such as erecting a new City Hall will take years of progress to accomplish.

Here is a list of the city’s priorities for the fiscal year beginning July 1:

Priority Actions for Covington’s City Manager

New City Hall Facility

  • Acquire title from Kenton County for 638 Scott Blvd.
  • Utilize design-bid-build construction procurement method
  • Develop a schedule
  • Procure architect services
  • Develop architect services selection committee
  • Recommendations to Commission for architect services and building design
  • Award contract for architect services

For years, the City of Covington has searched for a new city building to call home. Covington Communications Manager Dan Hassert told LINK nky that Covington’s current city building at 20 West Pike Street lacks adequate space for their large staff.

Earlier this year, the Covington Board of Commissioners voted to renew a one year lease extension for their current city building. City offices have been located at 20 West Pike Street since 2013, when the City officially moved out of 638 Madison Ave., which is now Hotel Covington.

On March 11, 2021, Covington purchased the plots of land at 620 and 622 Scott Blvd. next to Lee’s Famous Recipe. The purchase price of the lots, which are currently empty fields, was $550,000.

638 Scott Blvd. is adjacent to 620 and 622 Scott Blvd. The title is currently owned by Kenton County.

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Parking

  • Complete organization of Covington Motor Vehicle Parking Authority, including completion of transfer of assets and private independent parking services
  • Finalize management of John R. Greene parking garage in MainStrasse
  • Finalize development of “Residential Parking Plan”
  • Develop MainStrasse parking plan
  • Initiate plan for next parking structure location/design

Brent Spence Bridge

  • Finalize agreement with Kentucky Transportation Cabinet
  • Engagement in National Environmental Policy Act reevaluation and design build construction processes

Last week, Covington made historic strides by coming to two agreements with KYTC regarding the Brent Spence Bridge Corridor project, which will be one of the largest construction projects in the region’s history.

Some highlights of the first agreement project information sharing between KYTC and Covington, a $500,000 reimbursement from KYTC for Covington to hire a project manager for the next five years, and a new storm sewer system from Kyles Lane to the Ohio River.

The second agreements outlines the duties and responsibilities of the Covington project manager.

“This will give Covington a seat at the table,” Meyer said during the City’s last legislative meeting.

Priority Actions for Covington’s Service Departments

Economic Development Department 

  • Wet Lab for Life Sciences ($15,000,000 from state of Kentucky) (2022 session)

The Life Sciences Wet Lab in Covington saw its funding increase from $10 million to $15 million Gov. Andy Beshear’s biennial budget.

“Speaking of that, attracting new jobs, the Life Sciences Lab in Northern Kentucky,” Beshear said in April. “I believe it can be a game-changer. It is funded in this budget. The budget invests $15 million in the City of Covington to support the construction and outfitting of a share research and development lab facility to serve the region’s rapidly expanding life sciences sector.”

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  • IRS: Finalize state Tax Increment Financing designation

A Tax Incentive Financing district, or TIF, is an economic development tool used by public agencies to finance needed infrastructure projects (sewers, streets, parking lots, etc.) by designating future tax gains resulting from the development for improvements.

The 31.6-acre TIF district – which will consist of the 23-acre former IRS site, the adjacent Northern Kentucky Convention Center, and surrounding streets – allows Covington to use the growth in revenue from three state taxes collected within the TIF’s borders: sales taxes, ad valorem property taxes, and income tax.

The TIF district will go towards financing infrastructure around the Covington Central Riverfront project.

Fire Department

  • Local 38 Contract Negotiations
  • Formal adoption of Fire Department policies by Commission
  • Monitor and support ambulance supplemental pay program (Cabinet for Health and Family Services)

Neighborhood Services Department

  • 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

Public Works Department

  • Conversion of Scott and Greenup streets to two-way streets

Covington’s plan for the project is to turn the both thoroughfares into two-way streets, with the intention keeping traffic in the downtown business corridor.

“The city has been working on the conversion of Scott and Greenup Streets since 2018,” Covington Mayor Joe Meyer told LINK nky in late April. “We are very pleased the project has been funded by the General Assembly.”

Rep. Sal Santoro (R-Union) and Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-Ryland Heights) discussed the project during a late April NKY Chamber of Commerce Legislative Recap.

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“The businesses are very much in favor of this,” Santoro said at the meeting.

  • American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees contract negotiations
  • Continued implementation storm water backflow valve program

Police Department

  • Fraternal Order of Police contract negotiations

Priority Action Items for Covington’s Support Departments

Administration Department

  • IRS site: award engineering contract; complete demolition; and complete preliminary engineering work

The former IRS building is currently undergoing demolition. Cincinnati-based O’Rourke Wrecking is the company in charge of demolition.

  • 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
  • Information technology: Share implementation plan for options described in IT analysis; Develop a three to five year plan for implementation of IT recommendations; Identify outside service provider to support city IT operations
  • Human resources: Engage consulting services for overall review of Human Resources operations and policies
  • Design and identify locations for Covington signs

Legal Department

  • Complete franchise agreements for all utilities companies serving Covington
  • Manage Covington’s interest in opioid settlement
  • Engage outside counsel to foreclose on tax and other city liens
  • Develop maintenance agreements with CSX for maintenance of their bridges in the city

Finance Department

  • External review of Finance Department operations and policies
  • Select new Financial Advisor
  • Auditor Request For Proposal

Smith mentioned yesterday at the Commission meeting that the City was looking to hire an auditor.

“Needless to say, we need our books audited,” Smith said.

2021-2022 City Commission Priorities Needing Continued Focus

Policy Development

  • Appropriate use of the Covington “C” and the official city seal
  • Data Security
  • Hiring/Workplace diversity
  • Street cleaning and signage
  • Critical Incident Reporting to City Commission 

Future Priority Action Items

  • Create city-wide Recreation Commission

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