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Covington commission hears outside review that makes 55 recommendations for finance department

By Ryan Clark
NKyTribune reporter

An outside review of the city’s Finance Department has revealed 55 high-priority recommendations for change — including major upgrades on everything from creating standard operating procedures for employees, to providing more training on in-house software.

Representatives from the Chicago-based Baker Tilly firm made the presentation at the Commission’s regularly scheduled legislative meeting Tuesday night. But they first started by saying that employees in the department “really want to do a good job” and are passionate and work long hours.

But, as Mayor Joseph U. Meyer noted, there have been two separate incidents of major thefts in the department in the past 10 years. According to Baker Tilly, changes need to be made.

Findings from their report include recommendations like:

Creating Standard Operating Procedures for every employee
Establishing clear policies and goals
Investigating technical training and developmental opportunities for employees
Establishing clear policies for using credit cards
Revisiting (but not necessarily canceling) the Work at Home Policy
Adding a position that focuses on Budget Development, while monitoring the coming and going of finances
Adding an Internal Audit Position in the City Manager’s office.
Creating a “Who to Call” list
Training Finance staff on software
Implementing a Procurement Card Program
Developing an annual Audit Plan

The Baker Tilly representatives noted that these recommendations could not be implemented quickly; in fact, it would take a long while. However, they will next provide the city with an implementation guide.

“Thank you all for the depth and quality of this presentation,” Meyer said. “You’ve identified a lot of ways to improve …. and a number of policies and procedures need to improve significantly.”

The Mayor agreed that implementation would be a slow process, but a necessary one.

“I believe that your recommendations are comprehensive,” he said. “And I think this is a great road map.”

Local hero

Commissioners read a resolution in honor of local citizen Rudy Ramirez-Roblero, for “appreciation for his acts of bravery and citizenship in assisting members of the Covington Police Department.”

On June 3, Ramirez-Roblero was leaving a church event in the area of 15th and Russell Street when he saw a police officer arrive, exit his squad car and chase down a suspect in an incident. Another suspect, Breanna Wright, then entered the squad car with the intent to steal it.

Ramirez-Roblero then put himself in danger, removing Wright from the car.

“He put the vehicle in park and waited for police to come for a report,” Police Chief Brian Valenti said. “His actions were above the call of duty from a citizen.

“The actions of Rudy Ramirez-Roblero embodies the best in all of the citizens of Covington.”

Finance report

Steve Webb, finance director, presented a first quarter finance report to the city, which included that:

• There is currently a $1.7 million deficit in the general fund, but Webb noted taxes will be collected in spring

• General revenue funds are ahead of last year

• Expenditures so far total $13,126,107, against an overall budgeted amount of $69,213,228.

Mortgage Assistance

Commissioners approved the city’s ARPA-funded Mortgage Assistance Program plan, which will use $500,000 to help potential homebuyers buy down mortgage interest rates, or pay down payment and closing costs associated with the purchase of owner-occupied or vacant homes in eligible Qualified Census Tracts, or QCTs.

The ARPA Mortgage Assistance will be a grant of up to $15,000 to assist families with a home purchase, with an expense cap of $350,000.

City officials said the program will be run in a similar manner as HOME down payment assistance and CDBG home repair programs. The purpose is to increase the number of homeowners in the QCTs, which are defined as census tracts in the city where 51 percent of the population earns 65 percent or less of the Area Median Income.

Interested buyers will then apply online here: https://portal.neighborlysoftware.com/COVINGTONKY/participant

Heritage Trades program

Commissioners approved a sub-recipient agreement with the Building Industry Association of Northern Kentucky for tuition and expenses, as well as building stabilization expenses, associated with 1515 Madison Ave. — which will be used as a working lab for the Covington Academy of Heritage Trades.

Previously, the city set aside $250,000 of ARPA funds to support the development of the new Covington Academy of Heritage Trades. As a sub-recipient, the Building Industry of Northern Kentucky will deploy funds to stabilize the building and to cover the cost of tuition and supplies for those Covington residents who enroll in the workforce training program.

Gateway work

Commissioners approved $69,500 for a contract with Emersion Design LLC to provide a design for the Covington Gateway at the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge.

In 2019, the city’s Economic Development Department hired Garner Economics to complete a Strategic Plan, and one of the recommendations was to improve Gateways into the city, which would include new signage, landscaping and beautification initiatives.

Text Amendment for Kennels

Commissioners approved a proposal to amend the Neighborhood Development Code to add kennels as a conditional use to Limited Industrial Districts.

The Limited Industrial (LI) district of the Neighborhood Development Code was developed for “low to moderate-impact warehousing, wholesaling, and manufacturing uses,” city documents say. “This district covers many areas adjacent to the railway in Covington. The recommended text amendment would allow kennel uses that receive a Conditional Use Permit to operate within this district because they are suited to large-format buildings associated with this district.”

Port Authority Camera Grant

The Covington Police Department was approved will receive a $157,180 grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Port Security Grant Program — along with a match from the city ($52,393).

The funds will be used to expand the Riverfront Commons Camera Program to the west, “from Madison Landing to just east of the existing Brent Spence Bridge,” city plans say. “This will add an additional 18 cameras along Covington’s Riverfront Commons Hiking and biking trail.”

iPad Technology Pilot Program

Commissioners approved ARPA funds to be used in a contract with Covington Independent Public School District to carry out a pilot program with J.E. Biggs families that “introduces and measures the impact of city-provided iPads and early literacy applications upon kindergarten readiness of the participating children,” city documents say.

The program will utilize $73,334 for Read Ready Covington’s “iPad technology pilot program,” for the Covington Independent Public School District to use for up to three consecutive school years. The project will monitor the impact that city-provided iPads and early literacy applications have on two classes of 4-year-olds and their families at J. E. Biggs Preschool.

The school district will provide technical and instructional support and the program will begin immediately after the technology arrives.


Commissioners approved the promotion of James Johnson to stormwater maintenance worker.


Commissioners approved the hiring of Joseph Meimann, for Code Enforcement Manager, Allyson Schaeffer for Code Enforcement Inspector, and Hillary Williams for Recreation Program Coordinator.


Commissioners approved the resignations of Angela Umbarger, Tax Auditor, and Devyn Harris, Police Officer.


Commissioners approved the re-appointments of: Pamela Mullins, to the Human Rights Commission; Omar Gray to the Code Enforcement Hearing Board; Rebecca Weber to the Board of Architectural Review and Development; and Matthew Roetting to the Audit Committee

And the appointments of:

Sheree Weichold to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Administrator; and Kathleen Summe to the Board of Overseers for Linden Grove Cemetery

Next Meeting

The next regularly scheduled Covington Commission meeting will be a caucus meeting held at 6 p.m., Nov. 22, 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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