by Michael Monks
DOWNTOWN COVINGTON: DON'T LOOK TO PAST FOR THE FUTUREDowntown Covington will never be what it once was, so it's time to focus, says a consultant. Madison Ave should own that focus while Pike, Scott, & MLK are on hold for now. (The consultant says there are not enough people with enough money in Covington to support a larger vibrant Downtown.) Plus, Mainstrasse should rebrand itself as a destination for fine-dining and refined tastes. Full story at the link.
Full story: The River City News
EMOTIONS FILL CITY HALL AS FIRE CHIEF, FIREFIGHTERS RETIRE"People don't see at three in the morning when a young lieutenant has to put two toddlers and their grandmother in body bags. When a sixteen-year old boy hangs himself with an electrical cord. How do you close your eyes at night after that?" An emotional night at City Hall as firefighters retire. Click it.
Full story: The River City News
CITY COMMISSION RECAP
Though the retail consultants presentation and the firefighter retirements dominated Tuesday night's meeting, there were plenty of other items on the City Commission's agenda:
- CITY FUNDS AWARDED TO CENTER FOR GREAT NEIGHBORHOODS The City will allocate roughly $120,000 of its federal housing dollars to the Center for Great Neighborhoods as that organization embarks on an ambitious rehabilitation project on and around Orchard Street, starting with three houses purchased from the City for a dollar. (Measure passed unanimously, with Commissioner Shawn Masters voting "present" since he lives in the neighborhood.)
- 115 STREET LIGHT FIXTURES TO BE REPLACED Of the approximately 4,000 streetlights in the Covington city limits, the City is responsible for the maintenance of about two hundred and 115 of them are in need of having their top fixtures replaced. In fact, the model used for many years has been discontinued. City Engineer Tom Logan called the hodgepodge of inconsistent light fixtures "embarrassing". The commission approved the purchase of new fixtures for 115 streetlights in Mainstrasse Village and Licking Riverside at a cost of $105,000, though all of those funds come from a rebate the City received from Duke Energy. These are the decorative-style streetlights you see on Main Street, Sixth Street, and Philadelphia in Mainstrasse and along Riverside Drive in Licking Riverside.
- CHANGE OF PLANS FOR LAPTOPS AT POLICE DEPARTMENT At the previous commission meeting, the police department was given approval to purchase laptop computers, but after the meeting a better deal came along. Finance Director Bob Due explained that the previous approval would have been for 3-year old computers whose warranties have expired but Panasonic, the maker of the laptops, offered a deal on new computers in the form of a 3-year lease with an option to buy at the end of the term for one dollar. Originally, the approval was to fund the laptops through the evidence forfeiture fund but whether that is still entirely the case was not full explained for the new, higher price of $291,000 over three years.
- NEW GUIDELINE FOR HOME OWNERSHIP PROGRAM ANNOUNCED The City will have fewer federal funds to apply toward home ownership down payments, facade grants, and other incentives but the program will be opened up to more parts of the City once a certain threshold of spending has been reached.
- NEW CITY HALL SECURITY CONTRACT AWARDED The Commission approved a new contract for Brantley Security to provide the part-time security officers that patrol City Hall at an annual cost of $27,428.
- DEVOU PARK TO GET NEW SIGNS Geograph Industries was awarded a $36,000 contract (payable from Drees Pavilion Allocation Fund) to create and install new destination and rules signage for Covington's Devou Park
- Notes: The Covington Neighborhood Collaborative made a short presentation to highlight its upcoming Covington calendar, its work with Keep Covington Beautiful, and the successful renovation of Barb Cook Park in West Latonia
KENTON CO FISCAL COURT SPLIT ON 911 DISPATCH FEE
Things did not go as planned at Tuesday night's Kenton County Fiscal Court meeting as the Judge-Executive and the County Commissioners could not agree on funding the new consolidated 911 emergency dispatch center through a $6 fee assessed to energy bill:
The new fee would have replaced the monthly dispatch service fee on telephone land lines, which an average of 3 to 4 percent of users have been phasing out each year.Covington's dispatch center is being shut down in September.
Kenton Judge-executive Steve Arlinghaus and Kenton County Commissioner Jon Draud supported funding a consolidated 911 emergency dispatch operation through a monthly fee on electric bills. Commissioners Kris Knochelmann and Beth Sewell voted against it.
“I have a problem with asking a private company to sneak this on a bill and not make it apparent to customers,” Sewell said...“I just feel like most residents are saying: ‘Just put it on the (property tax) bill so we can see it.’”
Full story: Cincinnati Enquirer/Libby Cunningham
City Commissioner Steve Frank writes at The River City News Facebook page:
OK here's the skinny on last night fiscal court's vote. 911 dispatch merger is still on (as far as I can tell). There were 3 original proposals on how to pay for it, car tax at $35 per car, Duke Bill per Electric Meter, or a Property tax bill based on valuation per $1,000. What Beth Sewell and Kris Knochelmann have proposed instead of putting it on the Duke bill, is to put a twist on the property tax bill and levy a charge per parcel. Their rational was that Duke was going to sue and might delay the collection of fee for several years. Personally I think Duke may have bought some ill will for their trouble. No one liked the car idea unless you only walked or rode bicycles (and they might need 911 service one day). Charging by property tax value wasn't fairly spreading the costs because some people would pay very little and others way more than the cost of service. The per parcel charge and I do not know what that number is, ( say $75 per parcel wither you had a quarter acre or 10 acres) would be placed on property tax bills that would be in addition to one's monthly escrow or charged presumably all at once if you pay that way as I do. Everyone pays more or less the same for the same service and the costs are shared by the whole covered area. Something might still have to be worked out for people with multiple properties or very large commercial properties; but that is for the working out the details and avoids a Duke lawsuit gumming up the works. If I have a complaint it was that this proposal was not clearly marketed before hand leaving those of us who believed that the Duke bill idea was the most fair way of doing things thinking that there was no Plan B in place.|
NORTHERN KENTUCKIANS SPEAK OUT ON TAX REFORM
Governor Steve Beshear's blue ribbon tax reform commission visited Northern Kentucky University Tuesday night to hear from the public:
The 23-member tax reform commission made up of business and education leaders will make a recommendation for reforming Kentucky’s tax structure by the end of the year.Full story: Cincinnati Enquirer/Scott Wartman
Fort Thomas resident Joan Gregory asked for more taxes. Gregory said when she moved to the area, she didn’t locate where the taxes are low, but where the schools, parks and libraries are great. Businesses often make the same decisions, she said.
“I’m a history teacher, and, historically, I’ve known Americans have always opposed taxes,” Gregory said. “It caused the American Revolution. It’s in our DNA. But I’m here to ask you to take one for the team, because I want you to raise taxes. I want you to consider raising them to improve the quality of life in Kentucky, to attract businesses to the Commonwealth, to improve our schools, to build infrastructure, to support transportaiton, to provide public safety and to provide tax incentives for businesses.”
VOTRUBA: KY NEEDS STRATEGIC TAX REFORM NOW
NKU's retiring President Dr. James Votruba pens an op-ed to the tax commission:
You’re the tax experts. However, what I’ve learned over the past 15 years is that Kentucky is in a battle for its future. That battle will be won or lost based on our capacity to recruit and retain the talent needed to drive innovation essential for economic growth. Mark my words – over the next decade there will be some states that thrive and move forward while others fall further and further behind. Tax policy must contribute to our capacity to attract investment capital, new knowledge-based companies and the talent needed to drive them.Full editorial: Kentucky Forward
THE PRECARIOUS PROFESSION OF THE UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT
Related to the above post comes this interesting piece from the Chronicle of Higher Education:
The time in office for public-university presidents is shrinking rapidly, notwithstanding the recent reinstatement of the University of Virginia's president, Teresa A. Sullivan. The high turnover, while alarming, should not be surprising. Average inflation-adjusted state appropriations per student for higher education fell 24 percent from 1986 to 2011, just as public universities have been asked to enroll increasing numbers of often less prepared students while maintaining quality.Full story: The Chronicle of Higher Education
Such financial challenges call for bold changes, which is precisely what universities are least accustomed to doing. Presidents find themselves sandwiched between state legislatures and governing boards demanding significant shifts in how the university operates, and faculty senates defending an academic culture that is both resilient and excruciatingly resistant to change. Think of the dilemma for a university president who faces the threat of dismissal by the governing board for failing to react quickly, and the ire of a hostile faculty if real change is begun. No wonder the reward for most university presidents who do little other than seek consensus is a short tenure in office.
SEE ALSO: The value of Pre-K education Mother Jones
Shelter in Kentucky forced to put down 200 dogs after illness WLWT
Kentucky goes from driest June to possibly wettest July Herald-Leader
Attorney disputes accuser of former Ben-Gal cheerleader WLWT
Louisville airport makes list of 37 airports that could help influence the spread of global disease The Atlantic Cities
19,000 cited in Kentucky for not wearing seatbelts during "Click it, or ticket" campaign WKYT
Excellent Photo: The Belle of Cincinnati at the Simon Kenton Memorial Bridge Ledger-Independent
Arts Council seeks nominations for Kentucky Poet Laureate press release
Great shot of Anthony Davis swatting away a Spaniard during this week's USA vs Spain basketball game KSR
REPORT: 1 IN 4 KY KIDS MIRED IN POVERTY
Mirroring a national trend, the number of the state’s children living below the poverty line — defined in 2010 as $22,113 for a family of two adults and two children — rose 18 percent between 2005 and 2010, according to the annual report, which provides an annual snapshot of child well-being.Full story: Courier-Journal
REGION'S ECONOMIC COMPETITIVENESS EXPLORED TONIGHT
Via Direction 2030:
One of a two scheduled round table discussions to allow members of the public – including residents, builders, developers, business owners and operators, and others – to participate in a discussion with a panel of experts from various fields and provide input on the Comprehensive Plan, a policy and planning document that is designed to guide the development and growth in Kenton County over the next 20 years.Info on location and time: Direction 2030
This series of meetings will be comprised of two public meetings, one in Independence and one in Ludlow, to elicit input from all neighborhoods and communities within the county. Citizens may attend one or both of the meetings. Please be sure to register for each meeting you plan to attend. If you have questions, you may contact NKAPC at 859.331.8980.
FORMER BOONE JUDGE-EXEC ENDORSES BILL ADKINS IN KY-4
The Fourth Congressional District race sees another endorsement from a Judge-Exec, and another for Democrat Bill Adkins, a Williamstown attorney:
"Just two years ago Thomas Massie emerged on Kentucky's political scene to run for judge-executive of Lewis County. The duty of being elected as a judge-executive in Kentucky is to lead and serve the highest government body in the county for a period of four years. After just one year in office, Mr. Massie decided to run for Congress and just six months after that, he quit his job as judge-executive in order to run his Congressional campaign.
"I served as Boone County Judge-Executive for 23 years and I know that holding elected office is more than winning campaigns and moving up the ladder. It is about service to the people; serving the citizens who work and pay the taxes in the community. Citizens count on and depend on their elected leaders to act in their best interest for the greater improvement of the community. They expect and deserve a solid performance by their elected officials. Before the citizens cast their votes this November in the race for Congress, they should think about whether they believe Mr. Massie has performed his duty that he was sworn to do when he took office in January, 2011. Voters should look beyond partisan politics and choose the person who has a track record of keeping their word and contributing to the community. That person is Bill Adkins."
Former Boone County Judge-Executive
-The Licking Riverside Neighborhood Association meets tonight at 6:30PM at 327 Riverside Drive and will feature a presentation by Superintendent of Covington Schools Lynda Jackson.
-The City is distributing orange safety flags for wheelchairs in conjunction with the Human Rights Commission. Today's location OASIS Outreach Center (1016 Greenup Street) from 11:00AM - 1:00PM. For other locations and times, click here.
-Kenton County Animal Shelter employees can't believe these particular animals are still there! Click for photos
-From The Welcome House: How would you like to drive a 2012 silver Cadillac CTS Sports Sedan for just $50.00? Go to our website www.welcomehouseky.org to buy a chance on a 2 year lease.
THINGS ARE ROUGH, BUT LET'S HOPE THEY DON'T GET THIS BAD
The mayor of a town in Argentina is also running out of city funds so he has decided to pay employees only if they win a raffle:
Without enough money to pay all his city employees their regular wages, the mayor of a small town in central Argentina has implemented a money-saving plan that's equal parts desperation and spin. Instead of laying people off or implementing furloughs, the mayor has instituted a weekly raffle wherein the winners receive their pay. The losers receive nothing.Full story: The Atlantic Cities
The economy has been declining in the town of Bialet Masse, home to about 5,000 people and a modest tourism industry. Funding from the provincial government has dwindled in recent years as the entire country's economic growth has faltered. With few options at his disposal, Mayor Gustavo Pueyo got creative.
FOOD TRUCK INVASION IS FRIDAY
Get to the parking lot next to the Artisan Enterprise Center on West Seventh Street from 11:00AM to 2:00PM and have a great, quick lunch. You'll see more of these posters around town: