Covington Commission Meeting Highlights: FY 17 Recommended Budget Presentation, Citywide Improvements & Updates

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COVINGTON, KY –   A structurally balanced budget, a five-year capital plan, reduction of long-term debt, improving the City’s credit rating, maintaining services—these goals and others were presented Tuesday.

Covington City Manager Larry Klein displayed  the City’s FY 17 Recommended Budget for the Board of Commissioner’s consideration Tuesday night.

Klein’s proposed FY 17 goals include: a structurally balanced budget; establishment of a rolling Five-Year Capital Plan leveraging  non-City funds; reducing reliance on long-term debt; establishment of a Capital Reserve Fund; establishment of a long-term debt policy; continued effort to improve the City’s credit rating; a long-term tax reduction plan.

The FY 17 Recommended  Budget was presented before the Mayor and Commissioners by Finance Director Lisa Desmarais and Klein, and  emphasized the City’s values and priorities throughout the next fiscal year.

“The budget is based on a vision, a plan, and a direction of where the community wants to go,” said Klein.

Included in this presentation was the “All City Funds Budget Summary” featuring every fund, beginning and ending fund balances, revenues and expenses by department, and sources and uses of funding. This updated format is user-friendly and creates a new level of transparency displaying details of each fund, department and line item of the total City budget for both FY 16 and FY 17.

The FY 17 Recommended  Budget was developed in meetings with City elected leaders, management and staff, and discussed at 10 public meetings beginning in January 2016.

“The financial future of the City looks positive,” said Desmarais, who cautioned the Commission to use conservative projections to avoid financial trouble later.

“The past several years have been austere,” said Klein,  with departmental budget  cuts and some non- public safety layoffs. 

Klein projects no staffing reductions, no departmental operational item reductions, no increase in tax rates, maintenance of four new Police  Officer positions in the Police Department plus the new Computer Forensic Analyst position,  maintaining Fire Department staffing, and the pay-off of the City’s burdensome Tax Anticipation Note it has needed since 1976. There are also no pay increases included for any City employees except step in grade increases required by labor union contracts.

“We are attempting to exercise cautious, thoughtful, conservative prudence,” said Klein. “We are a fiduciary for tax dollars, and we have a duty to provide basic and high quality City services for our citizens.”

“I especially commend  our Mayor and  City Commissioners for continuing to increase the funding for our two legacy pension funds, the Police and Firemen’s Pension Fund, and  the City Employees Pension Fund (established before the City joined the current state system). These 105 pensioners and former City employees have earned  their pensions and deserve the peace of mind to know that their future monthly pension checks will be there.  The two pension funds are currently funded at 66% and 76% respectively based on the most recent annual actuarial study. The new budget increases those funding levels to 75% and 82% respectively. And the Fiscal Stability Ordinance approved  by the City Commission in December of 2015 requires the City to reach 100% funding in the annual budget over the next three years”.

Click here for a closer look into new City projects included in the FY 17 Recommended Budget.

The FY 17 Recommended Budget is available at City Hall’s Finance window and by clicking here. Additionally, it will be made available on the City’s website in the next several days on interactive transparency platform OpenGov.

The Annual Budget Public Meeting will take place at the City Hall Commission Chambers on Monday, June 20 at 7 p.m. All are welcome to attend and learn more about the proposed budget.

Also this evening, the naming of the alley “Eifert Family Way” located behind Holy Cross was approved. This honor commends and celebrates the Eifert family for their numerous contributions to the City of Covington.

Most recently, Clay Eifert retired from Holy Cross High School after serving many roles there including principal, teacher, coach and mentor.

An order resolution was approved to authorize the Legal Department in moving forward in enforcing foreclosure on vacant and abandoned properties. This will be the third round of properties included in Covington’s Community Developer Initiative (CCDI).

The CCDI program was launched in February 2015 and pairs qualified developers and residents with vacant structures and parcels. The first two rounds of the program have resulted in twenty-four properties being taken from vacant and abandoned status and returned to productive use. This round will include 17 vacant and abandoned properties.

Tuesday night’s meeting concluded with an update on Covington pools. The 2016 swim season began last weekend on Saturday, June 11 and will remain open until August 7. All locations are open from noon to 6 p.m., seven days a week.

Currently the City has issued 3700 pool passes to Covington residents. This is on schedule to match the total number of regular pool passes issued in 2015.

Pool and water park access is available and free to Covington residents in possession of a pool pass. Passes are available through the Parks & Recreation Department each year from May through August.

Pool pass applications can be filled out at City Hall and pool locations as well as found on the City’s website. New this year, once applications are completed applicants are able to pick up their pool passes at City Hall or their designated pool location.

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