A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Covington commission considering resolution on Port Authority, says negotiations continue

By Ryan Clark
NKyTribune reporter

When it comes to the Northern Kentucky Port Authority, the city is not mincing words. Tuesday, at the city commission’s regularly scheduled caucus meeting, Mayor Joseph U. Meyer proposed a resolution that requested, in part, that “the Northern Kentucky Riverport Authority commit in writing that it will abide by the requirements of Covington’s neighborhood development code, historic preservation standards, public realm streetscape design standards and infrastructure requirements.”

For months, Meyer has been discussing the issues with the group.

“We’ve talked about this off and on for several months now, and recently, the Port Authority has said in a definitive way that they will simply not agree to commit to follow the city’s zoning, our neighborhood development code, our historic preservation code, our design standards or our infrastructure rules,” he said in December. “In other words, they want to be free agents and come into Covington and do whatever they want and impose their values and their views on Covington and ignore the values that Covington and its elected officials have established.”

Covington commission (NKyTribune photo)

Meyer did note Tuesday that the city is continuing negotiations with the Authority.

“While we’re continuing negotiations with them, I ask that we put this on the agenda for consideration next week and see how things unfold over the next several days,” he said.

The resolution went on to note that “until 2022, the Northern Kentucky Riverport Authority has not engaged in any activity to promote and develop navigation, river transportation, riverport and riverport facilities ….”

Previously, Meyer pointed out that the Port Authority members come from three different counties, and none are from Covington.

“None of them have any experience in economic development in our community, and why they think that their opinions are more important than our opinions … is beyond me,” he said. He noted how last summer, he gave a speech to the Covington Business Council in which he talked about the need for a “dispute resolution mechanism.”

The resolution was placed on the regular agenda for next week’s legislative meeting.

In response, the NKY Port Authority board of directors issued the following statement to the Northern Kentucky Tribune:

“The NKY Port Authority is a multi-jurisdictional Port Authority under Kentucky statute and was founded in 1968 by the Fiscal Courts of Boone, Kenton, and Campbell counties.

The Northern Kentucky Port Authority board of directors values partnership and collaboration with the cities and counties we serve and desires to deliver projects and commercial real estate solutions those communities support. The NKY Port is complying with City of Covington codes for development and historic preservation with both the OneNKY Center and SparkHaus projects and has been working in close collaboration with city staff on these projects since their inception.”

According to the NKY Port Authority website, BE NKY Growth Partnership CEO Lee Crume, a resident of Covington and economic development professional and leader since 2013, is a member of the organization’s board of directors appointed by Kenton County.

Solid waste fee hike tabled

Commissioners heard a proposal for a hike in the city’s annual solid waste and recycling fees. City ordinance requests that the finance director prepare a financial analysis of these services, and Finance Director Steve Webb did just that Tuesday.

His recommendation? An increase of about $3 a month.

“We haven’t raised this fee in nearly 10 years — a lot has happened, Including inflation and a pandemic,” Webb said.

He said that at the current rate of $152.50 per year, Covington’s trash fee is “exceptionally low” compared to most other cities in Northern Kentucky. In the Northern Kentucky city county managers association’s most recent survey on the topic, Covington was 16th out of 20 cities, meaning the fee was the fifth-lowest, while the highest fee was almost double.

However, some of the commissioners were not comfortable with raising the fee.

“This makes me a little uncomfortable,” said Commissioner Ron Washington. “I would like this see this fee considered at budget time when we’re looking at cuts and just not revenue — that helps me if I see the big picture.”

The proposal was then passed over to be considered later.

New hire

Commissioners heard the proposed hire of:

Haley Snook, Administrative Assistant, Neighborhood Services Department. Because of a soft hiring freeze, commissioners decided to pass over the possible hire.


Commissioners heard the proposed resignations of:

Officer Eric Lomax, Police Department
Casey Barach, ARPA Manager, Administration Department

Both resignations were placed on next week’s consent agenda.

Trash can audit

City Manager Ken Smith told Commissioners about a trash can audit the city has been conducting, where they have collected 311 extra cans. That means the city won’t have to buy more, which will save about $25,000, he said.

Economic Development Agreements

Commissioners heard 10 proposed economic development agreements:

Pasquale Performance, LLC, dba Southside Strength Company, 319 Madison Avenue, Rent Incentive — $6,000
4 Hounds Pet Services, LLC, 339 West Pike Street, Rent Incentive — $6,000
Bridges Covington, LLC, 11 West 7th Street, Rent Incentive — $6,000
Noteworthy Tattoo Company, LLC, 521 Madison Avenue, Rent Incentive — $6,000
Kealoha’s Kitchen, LLC, 529 Main Street, Rent Incentive — $6,000
Covert Furniture Company, 25 Shaler Street, Façade Incentive — $6,000
Auto Body Works, Inc. dba Kelly’s Trim Shop, 2445 Madison Avenue, Façade Incentive — $6,000
Riley and Williams, LLC dba Hat Tricks Sports Bar, 902 Madison Avenue, Façade Incentive — $6,000
Landwehr Flats, LLC, 824 Madison Avenue, Façade Incentive — $6,000
Landwehr Flats, LLC, 826-828 Madison Avenue, Façade Incentive — $6,000

All of the proposals were placed on next week’s consent agenda.


Commissioners heard proposals for purchases for four vehicle and pieces of equipment:

Southeastern Equipment Co., Inc., 2023 Asphalt Paver — $83,946
Southeastern Equipment Co., Inc., 2023 Pavement Roller — $56,884.36
Paul Miller Ford, 2024 Ford F550 — $65,840.40
K E Rose, Upfitting for 2024 Ford F550 — $59,490
Commissioners decided they would like to deal with these purchases during the budget process and passed them over.

Board Appointment

Commissioners heard a proposed reappointment for Molly Costello to the Covington Motor Vehicle Parking Authority Board.

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

Next Meeting

The next regularly scheduled Covington Commission meeting will be a legislative meeting held at 6 p.m., Feb. 13, 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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