City of Covington leaves property tax unchanged; RIPPLE funding approved, Lewis is HR director

By Ryan Clark
NKyTribune reporter

Sometimes you can make money by saving money.

The City of Covington’s administration understands that fact, and it’s why for the fifth consecutive year, the Commission agreed with the city finance department’s recommendation to keep Covington’s taxes for real and personal property unchanged: .327 upon each $100 valuation of assessed or assessable real property; and .349 upon each $100 valuation of all assessed or assessable personal property.

City Commissioners heard a second reading and voted 4-0 to approve the proposal at their regularly scheduled legislative meeting Tuesday night.

Finance representatives have explained that by keeping the taxes low and unchanged they are actually making money — about $300,000 when you factor in the number of people who are improving properties or outright rehabbing them.

The low taxes attract buyers, who then come into the city to make improvements to the area.

RIPPLE Effect Funding Approved

Last week, Commissioners listened to one proposal that had been delayed due to COVID-19 — the proposals for 2019-2020 RIPPLE Effect funding, which includes $200,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds that have been carried over from previous years.

Jeremy Wallace, the city’s Community Development Manager, previously explained that the RIPPLE program assists neighborhoods by coordinating city services to implement public improvement projects. The efforts help beautify the area while also working with the community.

“Part of it is public improvements, like streetscapes,” Wallace said, “while part is also neighborhood activism.”

The city received two qualified applications for RIPPLE Effect funding, and Wallace said the highest-rated application was “The Botany Hills Urban Junction,” presented by the Devou Good Foundation, which focused on the intersection of Highway Avenue and Altamont Street.

Potential public improvements include:

Boarding bulb stops
Tree plantings
Bike racks
Garbage/recycling containers
Dog waste stations
Neighborhood gateway signs
Improvements to existing neighborhood sign/landscaping
Enhanced crosswalks
Facade improvements to commercial buildings
Repairs to Parkway Avenue Bridge/Underpass/access steps

The Devou Good Foundation will commit $50,000 to the project, Wallace said.

Commissioners approved the proposal Tuesday night. 

Cynthia Lewis Hired as HR Director

Commissioners approved the hiring of Cynthia Lewis as Human Resources Director effective Sept. 13.

The city posted the opening on July 1 and received 65 applications. A committee, which included the Interim City Manager, the Assistant Police Chief, the Fire Chief, the Director of Public Works and Commissioner Tim Downing, interviewed the top candidates.

Lewis has a bachelor’s degree in Human Relations and Management from Trevecca Nazarene University, is a U.S. veteran, and has 24 years of HR experience including the last 11 in municipal government, where she was the HR Director since 2017.

Board Appointments

Mayor Joseph U. Meyer and the Commission approved these appointments:

Begins 8/15/2021 – Ends 8/14/2024
Re-Appoint Michele Halloran

Begins 8/15/2021 – Ends 8/14/2024
Re-Appoint Rob Farrell

Begins 8/25/2021 – Ends 12/15/2023
Appoint Pete Nerone

Term: Begins 8/25/2021
Appoint Ken Smith (Interim City Manager)

Covington League of Cities Award

Commissioner Shannon Smith offered congratulations to the city and its administration for its recent “City Government of the Year” Award from the Kentucky League of Cities.

Covington was honored for, as one city release put it, “a $3 million public Wi-Fi project, a dramatic transformation of its riverfront, purchase of 23 acres near the heart of downtown and economic development announcements touting the creation of 2,100 new jobs and almost $90 million in private capital investment,” among other things.

“Covington was — and remains — determined to emerge from the pandemic not shell-shocked and shattered but able and ambitious, so even while we took drastic steps in 2020 to help our people and our businesses survive, we also moved forward on projects that are changing the trajectory of The Cov’s future,” Mayor Meyer said. “This award will inspire us to keep moving forward.”

Executive Session

After the meeting, Mayor Meyer announced the Commission would be going into an Executive Session to discuss personnel matters.

He said no further business would be conducted after the session.

Next meeting

The next regularly scheduled Covington Commission meeting will be a legislative meeting held at 6 p.m., Sept. 7, 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.