360 Fireworks Party

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


by Michael Monks 
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Covington dealt with disappointing headlines concerning the loss of two high profile companies and their lucrative payroll taxes that will no longer fill the City's coffers. In recent weeks, however, it appears that the job losses reached a plateau and now the focus turns to job retention and creation. The Mayor and each Commissioner is charged with maintaining a contact list containing their own share of the top one hundred businesses in town (in terms of payroll taxes collected) and each has committed to communicating and addressing their concerns. "So far things have been better this year," said Commissioner Sherry Carran. "They were laying off last year but are starting to hire back."
"Most of these businesses for the most part are very happy," said Commissioner Shawn Masters, citing a small business that started in Covington and is now spending $2 million to develop a vacant building while looking to hire four to six new workers to increase its staff of roughly forty. Mayor Chuck Scheper said that larger businesses in town have pointed to the City's payroll tax, the region's highest, as an issue but Carran said that she has found that most businesses agree that the City's amenities and benefits outweigh that issue. She argued that Covington's walkability and proximity to Cincinnati are often heralded as reasons to stay and grow in Covington.
"We're reaching out and talking to our customers, reaching out and figuring out how we can grow their businesses here," said Commissioner Steve Frank. "We don't want to go to our neighbors to fill our vacancies, we want to be above that game," said Commissioner Steve Casper, suggesting that it may be worth exploring the possibility of luring larger businesses from Chicago or New York City where taxes are high. Mayor Scheper said it would also be worth revising and adding to the business list to include smaller businesses with longevity in Covington.
Part of City Engineer Tom Logan's presentation
showing proposed new regulations for road
In a thorough presentation by City Engineer Tom Logan, Kenton County's new subdivision regulations were laid out. The Kenton County Planning Commission has attempted to revise its design regulations examples. They are still hand written, unprofessional, and hard to read, Logan said. "The goal is to be more professional, colorful and crisp," Logan said. However, the Homebuilders Association has slowed the approval process by charging that new regulations that would create better, stronger, more long-lasting roads would cost them too much money. Instead, the HBA wants to build roads as cheaply as possible. 
The sticking point is a couple new layers between the surface and the clay below that would allow for better drainage of water and slower decay of the roads. Ultimately, Logan said, the new regulations would save taxpayers money because the roads would last longer. The Kenton County Mayors Group approved the plans in November. City Manager Larry Klein said that Alexandria adopted the same rules for road construction ten years ago and that the development of new homes has not slowed in the years following despite the Homebuilders' claims as to what would happen here.
"Several cities were seeing new streets fail prematurely," Klein said. "The City has to use tax dollars to repair them. The Mayors Group wanted to make streets last longer and make taxpayer dollars last longer." According to Commissioner Carran, several other Kenton Count cities have passed resolutions in support of the new regulations and she suggested that Covington should do the same.
At Monday's MLK March and celebration at The Carnegie, the City of Covington received special recognition for its renaming of 12th Street to Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. "We have a beautiful new thoroughfare and gateway to the City," Mayor Scheper said, accepting a plaque.
Mayor Chuck Scheper
Mayor Scheper also shared the sad news that his father passed away Tuesday morning. His father was a Covington native who attended St. Ben's and had his first job at Stewart Iron Works. Scheper lost his mother-in-law last week and his own mother in October. Keep Mayor & Mrs. Scheper and their family in your thoughts during this sad time.

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