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Covington to hire new firms for financial services; final contract nears with architect for new city hall

By Ryan Clark
NKyTribune reporter

Making sure the city’s finances are running smoothly is a major responsibility.

And that’s why, as Commissioners met for their regularly scheduled caucus meeting Tuesday night, two of the more important items on the agenda revolved around the topic of finance — more specifically, auditing and financial services for the city.

Commissioners heard a proposal to enter into an agreement for Municipal Advisory Services with RSA Advisors LLC, a Kentucky Limited Liability Company from Lexington.

“The city issued an RFP for those services in October, and we received four proposals in December including RSA,” City Manager Ken Smith said. “RSA’s proposed fee cap ($4 per $1,000 bond issuance) was the most aggressive of all the proposals and they displayed their robust capacity and creativity by reviewing the city’s current debt.”

They also heard a proposal to hire Barnes Dennig — a Certified Public Accounting and consulting firm serving Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky — for audit services for $79,000.

“The city issued an RFP for Audit Services in October,” city documents say. “No proposals were received. The city reached out to a number of firms in the area to assess the lack of interest. During the course of those follow up conversations Barnes Dennig expressed interest in providing the service. This engagement can be renewed for up to three additional years on an annual basis.”

Commissioner Nolan Nicaise wondered why the financial services were necessary at all.

“We’ve had financial advisors, we’ve had auditors, but periodically we go back to the market to make sure we’re getting quality service and we rebid to make sure the price is competitive and that we’re getting what we want,” Smith said. “So, this is simply just a rebidding of existing services.”

“It gives an opportunity to evaluate that, and we need the service, quite frankly, because it’s expertise that we don’t always have in-house,” said Mayor Joseph U. Meyer. “I’ll just point out that this service is particularly critical to us as we worry about financing a new City Hall, we worry about the IRS issues, we have parking garages that we need to discuss — we have a number of other capital projects in the city that we need to figure out how we’re going to pay for.”

The financial request was placed on the regular agenda of next week’s legislative meeting.

As for the audit, Commissioners recently heard the results of an audit by another firm. Nicaise wondered why the city needed to switch. Officials explained it was good practice.

“It would be my recommendation that you not keep an auditor for an extended period of time,” Smith said, and the Mayor agreed.

The proposal was placed on next week’s consent agenda.

City Hall Architecture

In an addition to Tuesday night’s agenda, Commissioners were given a proposed negotiated price and contract for the architectural services for a new City Hall.

In January, Commissioners authorized the city to enter into negotiations with Brandstetter Carroll, Inc. and Elevar Design Group to develop a contract to design a new city building at 620-622 Scott Blvd.

The two firms have more than 50 years of experience in the region, designing nearly 200 public buildings, city officials said.

While officials are not yet sure what the official cost of this phase will be, this proposal calls for a price tag of 6.5 percent of the total project cost, negotiated down from 7 percent.
The proposal was placed on next week’s consent agenda.

Short-term rentals

Next week, Commissioners will hear the second reading and vote to amend the city’s ordinance on short-term rentals to include a one-year prohibition on any operator of a short-term rental without a license from applying for a license for one year.

“The city is experiencing a glut of unlicensed short-term rentals operating in certain areas of the city,” Covington documents read. “This addition to the short-term rental ordinance would prohibit an operator of a short-term rental from applying for a license for one year from the date they are notified that they are operating without a license … this is an addition to the ‘Penalties’ section of the Short-Term Rental Ordinance and leaves the remainder of the Ordinance unchanged.”

Streetscape Projects

Commissioners heard two proposed memorandums of agreement for:

• KYTC, Seventh Street Streetscape Project — To accept up to $2,987,000 for the utilities and construction phases of the Seventh Street Streetscape Project from Washington to Greenup Streets.

• KYTC, Madison Avenue Streetscape Project — to accept up to $2,107,000 for the utilities and construction phases of the Madison Avenue Streetscape Project from 8th to 11th Streets.

“An adopted order is required to procure a Memorandum of Agreement with KYTC to allow bid solicitation for construction,” city documents say. “The city will be responsible for 20 percent local match funds for (both projects), and any costs in excess of the reimbursable total.”

Both were placed on next week’s consent agenda.

Parks and Recreation Leagues

Parks and Recreation Staff, including Manager Benjamin Oldiges and Specialist Celeste Hill-Brockett, are currently working towards implementing sports leagues and after-school programs in partnership with Covington Independent Schools.

Commissioners heard a request for $50,000 in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding for expenses associated with supplies, equipment and fees to support the various sports leagues and after-school programming.

The proposal was placed on next week’s consent agenda.

Water Park Roof

Commissioners heard a proposal to approve a contract with Ace Exteriors for a new pool house roof at the Bill Cappel Water Park for $72,240 from American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding.

The proposal was placed on next week’s consent agenda.

Ambulances and Truck

Commissioners heard the proposed purchases of:

• A 2023 Chevy Tahoe from Bachman Auto Group for $45,142. It was placed on next week’s regular agenda.

• Two Horton ambulances from Specialty Truck Sales and Service for $682,000. This was placed on next week’s consent agenda.

Reappointments and Removal

Commissioners heard the proposed reappointments and removal of:

• Reappointment – Teri Meyer, Human Rights Commission
• Reappointment – Brandon Mims, Human Rights Commission
• Removal – Nichole Benning, Urban Forestry Board

New Hires and Promotions

Commissioners heard the proposed hirings and promotions of:

• Promotion – Alvis Barber, Light Equipment Operator
• Promotion – Ryan Gribble, Light Equipment Operator
• Promotion – Ryan Rickey, Light Equipment Operator
• New Hire – Ryan Reder – Grade 1 Firefighter
• New Hire – Jacob Moore – Grade 1 Firefighter
• New Hire – Tanner Dickman – Grade 1 Firefighter


Commissioners heard the proposed resignation of:

• Daniel Sims, Police Recruit, Police Department

Next Meeting

The next regularly scheduled Covington Commission meeting will be a legislative meeting held at 6 p.m., Feb. 28, 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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