Covington Partners with State on Brent Spence Deal for Major Benefits and Big Impact for City
By Ryan Clark
Mayor Joseph U. Meyer did something Tuesday night that he has rarely — if ever — done before. He stepped down from his seat as mayor during their regular legislative meeting and addressed the board on a subject close to his heart.
The Brent Spence Project.
For more than a decade, the mayor and the Commission have been arguing with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet over the details of the project — from the aspect of tolls, which studies say would send tens of thousands of vehicles through the area. of Covington – at the footprint of the project and its impact on residents of the city. Well, the topic of tolls was pushed aside, but in the minds of city leaders there was still a lot to fight.
Now, thanks to the efforts of Meyer and the Commission – including Meyer’s impassioned presentation on Tuesday evening – the City of Covington and KYTC will move forward as project partners after the commissioners agreed to sign two contracts. , who were surprisingly added to last week’s caucus meeting. agenda.
The contracts not only cement the city’s partnership with KYTC, as there are other highlights for the city, including:
• KYTC reimbursing the city up to $500,000 to hire a Covington Project Manager to coordinate the Brent Spence Bridge project with them for the next five years,
• A new storm sewer from Kyles Lanes and extending through the Willow Run watershed to the Ohio River,
• A number of actions related to reducing traffic impacts during construction, including improvements at the intersections of Fourth and Main and Fifth and Main Streets, and
• Triple funding for the Lewisburg Façade Grant program to $1.2 million.
In his presentation on Tuesday, Meyer first said he wanted to provide an update on the decades-long project.
He noted that the project is entering “a new phase,” in part because the cities of Cincinnati and Covington are completely different now than when the project designs were being discussed in 2005. Meyer pointed to the attraction of new businesses and the revitalization of Covington, as well as projects like the central waterfront development plan for proof.
“Our Kentucky Transportation Cabinet recognized our change in circumstances and cleared the way for adjustments to the 2012 plan,” he explained. “In practice, final designs won’t be complete until the project is well advanced.”
But Covington now has a seat at the table. Meyer noted an updated timeline in which the state hopes to award the design contract by Nov. 1, 2023. They hope construction will begin Dec. 31, 2023, and be complete by March 31, 2029. .
“Over the past few years, but the last year in particular, the city has been engaged in intense negotiations with the Transport Cabinet over the design of the project,” Meyer said. “We have succeeded in some of our pleas, failed in others, and in others it remains to be determined.”
But one of the city’s biggest wins involves the construction of a new storm sewer.
“The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet will address stormwater issues by constructing a new storm sewer from Kyles Lane to the Ohio River,” Meyer explained.
The memorandum of understanding between KYTC and the city states that “KYTC has initiated a study to evaluate measures to fully contain all freeway drainage in a separate stormwater conveyance system and to eliminate discharges into the system. city’s combined sewer system beginning at Kyles Lane and extending through the Willow Run watershed to the Ohio River.
It is believed that this new system will help alleviate flooding problems experienced by the Peaselburg neighborhood during intense storms. Securing this improvement as part of the deal could have a significant positive impact on residents — and solve a problem that has plagued them for longer than the Brent Spence project has been in the works.
The commissioners voted 4-0 to approve both contracts.
Meyer can now sign both and formally accept the partnership. After that, Jim Gray, the secretary of KYTC, will also sign.
“Once the secretary has signed, the Cabinet can load into their payment system and return a copy for our records, and this will be effective from the start of the next fiscal year,” Meyer wrote in an email to the Commission the last week. . “The overall impact of I-75 on this city and its future cannot be underestimated. These contracts guarantee the city’s participation in the process.
Approval of new guidelines for small businesses
Commissioners approved a few changes to their small business guidelines, including:
• Changing the eligibility criteria for rental subsidies from an “existing business” to a “new” business, or a business that has been open for less than 120 days before the application deadline and meets all of the requirements.
• For facade improvement incentive changes: Although construction expenses incurred prior to the execution of an agreement with the city are not eligible for reimbursement, at the owners risk and peril, materials purchased , but no facade work is performed, prior to execution of an agreement agreement are eligible for reimbursement if the application is funded (if the application does not receive funding, all costs incurred would be the responsibility of the owner).
• In light of the supply chain and labor situation, both of which are causing construction delays, the panel recommends extending the allowed construction completion time from 6 months to 12 months.
• They also recommended the addition of a historic electrical sign program. In addition to many amazing historic buildings, Covington also has unique historic electrical signs in various commercial areas of the city. Similar to the Façade Incentive, this will be a forgivable loan program focused on refurbishing dilapidated historic signage in commercial areas. This program provides new and existing businesses and commercial property owners with a 75 (city)/25 (landlord) matching grant of up to $7,500 to offset the costs of restoring existing projecting signs. The following items are eligible: mounting hardware, sign installation, sign refurbishment (including wiring and neon or related fixtures).
The budget got its first reading
Staff produced a draft budget for next year, which showed a projected total income from all funds of $168,061,010, with a projected total expenditure from all funds of $162,963,804.
Staff approve priorities for 2022-23
Commissioners approved a set of priorities for the next fiscal year, including:
• New installation of the town hall
• Car park
• File management
• Brent Spence Bridge
• Wet laboratory for life sciences
• IRS: finalize the TIF designation of the State
• Local 38 contract negotiations: meeting paramedic qualification requirements
• Official adoption of fire service policies by the Commission
• Monitor and support the Ambulance Supplemental Pay (CHFS) program
• Develop and implement annual reports to the Commission regarding the administration of the Shelter Ordinance; short term rentals; and rental housing license
• Implementation of the parks master plan
• Operationalize neighborhood investment partners as an independent provider of affordable housing
• Move city heights
• Identify sidewalk blocks in need of repairs and advise homeowners on sidewalk maintenance responsibilities
• Conversion of Scott and Greenup to two-way streets
• Negotiations of AFSCME contracts
• Continued implementation of stormwater backwater valve program
• Recommendations for systemic improvement MS4/Stormwater
• Recommendations for improving the 15th Street Bridge
• FOP contract negotiations
City support services:
• IRS site: Award of an engineering contract; Complete demolition; and Complete preliminary engineering work
• Covington Connect: extend wireless service to other areas of the city
• Develop the management plan for Covington Connect regarding the management of data and its use as a communication vehicle
• Share the plan for implementing the options described in the IT analysis
• Develop a 3-5 year plan for implementing IT recommendations
• Identify an external service provider to support city IT operations
• Engage consulting services for a comprehensive review of HR operations and policies
• Design and identify Covington sign locations
• Complete franchise agreements for all utility companies serving the city
• Manage city interest in opioid settlement
• Hire an outside attorney to exclude taxes and other city liens
• External review of Finance Department operations and policies
• Select a new financial advisor
• Auditor RFP
• Implement a database for municipal councils
Hires, resignations and appointments
The Commissioners approved:
• The resignation of Emilee Buttrum as Deputy City Solicitor and Covington Liquor Control Administrator
• The hiring of Sharon Snowden for the position of payroll specialist
• The hiring of Anthony Fritsch as a Covington police officer
• The hiring of Mason Smith as a Covington Police Officer
• Reappointment of Charlie Vance to the Audit Committee for a three-year term beginning May 15, 2022 and ending May 14, 2025.
Commissioner Tim Downing was absent from Tuesday evening’s meeting.
The next regular meeting of the Covington Commission will be a caucus meeting to be held at 6 p.m., June 21, 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, TBNK Facebook page @TBNKonline and TBNK Roku channels.