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Covington to help residents with backflow valves, more ARPA funding approved, firefighters honored

By Ryan Clark
NKyTribune reporter

About a year and a half ago, the city took over the stormwater program from the Sanitation District.

Now, officials are ready to help their residents.

Tuesday night, at their regularly scheduled legislative meeting, Commissioners approved a series of proposals that will provide assistance to property owners who need “Backflow Preventer Valves” to eliminate basement flooding due to sewer backups during heavy rains.

“We’ve done a tremendous amount of work for the past year and a half getting ready, but all of that work is a prelude to actually dealing with the people in our community who have had these problems,” said Mayor Joseph U. Meyer. “Tonight, we are creating a circumstance where it’s finally time where we can reach out to the people who are in our city who have experienced these backups and this sanitary sewage in their basements and began to solve it.”

Now the city will be able to partner with the Sanitation District to promote the Backflow Preventer Valve program and offer financial assistance to those impacted property owners, which officials hope would encourage more residents to participate.

“SD1’s Backup Assistance Program is designed to provide financial relief to property owners dealing with wet weather sewer backups in their homes or businesses,” the Backup Assistance Program Procedures reads. “It provides up to $10,000 in assistance per approved property for installing a ‘backup solution’ — a mechanical device that can prevent wet­weather backups. A typical solution costs less than $5,000. Covington Property Owners who have experienced a wet-weather sewer backup in their home or business are eligible to participate in the City of Covington Backup Assistance Guarantee Program that will provide basement cleanout and other services if the backup solution fails.”

“So, this is really as a significant step for us in terms of helping our people deal with quality-of-life issues in their house and in their neighborhood,” Mayor Meyer said.

More ARPA Projects approved

Commissioners approved more American Rescue Plan Act projects:

• $455,000 for expanding and monetizing the public WiFi system.

• $100,000 for pedestrian improvements in the Eastside, including at MLK, Wheeler, Prospect and Beal. 

• $85,000 for Be Concerned, for English as a Second Language Program Expansion. It will have a Sept. 1 start date, and Be Concerned anticipates assisting 300 households.
• $500,000 for the Children’s Home of Northern Kentucky for building emergency capital improvements at all DeVou Park campus buildings.
• $45,000 for the Center for Great Neighborhoods for Tax Return Look Back Program. CGN anticipates assisting 300 households.
• $100,000 for the Legal Aid of the Bluegrass for a Financial Literacy and Legal Representation Program. Legal Aid of the Bluegrass anticipates assisting 600 individuals.

Role consolidation

Commissioners heard a proposal last week by City Manager Ken Smith to consolidate the roles of Administration Director and the Assistant City Manager.

“When the city was reorganized to reflect service departments and support departments, an Administration Department was created,” city documents say. “It consisted of IT, HR, Analytics, Communications and Grants. This department has never had a director which resulted in the five divisions reporting directly to the City Manager. (I)n an effort to improve management and reduce the number of direct reports to the City Manager, staff is recommending that the role of Administration Director be incorporated into the duties of the Assistant City Manager.”

Commissioners approved the proposal Tuesday night. 

Brent Spence Project Coordinator

Earlier in the summer, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet partnered with the city and agreed to reimburse 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.

Last week, Mayor Meyer proposed that the hire could be Rick Record, of RL Record, LLC, who has already been working with the city for a few months.

Commissioners approved the proposal Tuesday night.

New Fire Department trucks

Fire Chief Mark Pierce added a walk-on item Tuesday night — a request for two 2023 F150 trucks, which would replace two 2013 Explorers.

He said the request was made, and a decision was needed quickly, because the dealership said there was only a two-week window to purchase them.

Commissioners approved the request.

Read Ready Covington

Commissioners approved a $48,000 professional services agreement Mary Kay Connolly the fifth year of the city’s Read Ready Covington early literacy initiative.

Hires, Appointments and Re-appointments

Commissioners approved:

The hirings of Nolan Dismukes, Code Enforcement Inspector; Rob Farrell, Solid Waste and Recycling Enforcement Officer; Celeste Hill Brockett, Recreation Specialist.

The re-appointments of Crystal Courtney, Urban Forestry Board; Terry Hughes, Board of Trustees for City Employees Retirement Fund; Tom Hall, Police and Fire Pension Board; Art Heeger, Police and Fire Pension Board.

The appointment of Samantha Hedges, Code Enforcement Hearing Board .

Ordinances approved

Commissioners approved these ordinances:

• An ordinance of the City of Covington prohibiting illicit discharges and illicit connections to the city’s stormwater system.

• An ordinance amending chapter 50.13 of the Covington code of ordinances establishing the storm water and flood management fund to establish subordinate reserve accounts to support the backup assistance program and capital projects addressing the inadequacies of the combined sewer system.

• An ordinance of the city of Covington, Kentucky, for controlling construction site erosion and sediment control.

• An ordinance of the city of Covington, Kentucky, for post construction runoff control.

• An ordinance amending chapter 94, parks and recreation and public property, of the Covington code of ordinances.

Firefighters honored

Mayor Meyer recognized the 12 firefighters who went to eastern Kentucky for a week to assist with cleanup of the recent flooding.

“We want to acknowledge and express our appreciation for their efforts in this time of incredible need in our state,” he said.

Executive Session

Mayor Meyer announced at the end of the meeting that Commissioners would go into an executive session “for the purpose of discussing proposed litigation.”

Meyer said that no further action would be taken that night.

Next Meeting

The next regularly scheduled Covington Commission meeting will be a caucus meeting held at 6 p.m., Aug. 16, 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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