Covington’s ‘remembrancer’ (aka City Clerk) wins top honor

Ellis named ‘outstanding municipal clerk’

COVINGTON, Ky. – The Northern Kentucky Municipal Clerks Association (NKMCA) has made official what Covington City leaders have long thought: Covington City Clerk Susan Ellis is indeed “outstanding” in her field.

“An unrivaled eye for innovative solutions” … “tireless work ethic” … and “caring professionalism” are a sampling of the accolades that City leaders wrote in their recommendations for Ellis’s nomination for NKMCA’s “Outstanding Municipal Clerk Award.” The membership organization has roughly 50 members and provides the region’s City Clerks with professional resources and networking opportunities.

Ellis, who has earned the title of Certified Municipal Clerk (CMC) through the International Institute of Municipal Clerks, and Certified Kentucky Municipal Clerk (CKMC) through the Kentucky Municipal Clerks Association, said she was honored by the award.

“I love what I do – I love the customer service aspect of it,” said Ellis. “A city clerk should be a multitasker and be able to deal with anything that comes up. You’ve got to be able to roll with whatever is going to happen.”

As Covington’s City Clerk, Ellis prepares agendas and compiles minutes for meetings of the Covington Board of Commissioners and makes sure legal notices and ordinances are published. She’s responsible for records maintenance, retention and retrieval; continues the ongoing digitization of City records; processes improvements for paper flow; and responds to Open Records requests from the public and media.

Since 2021, when Ellis stepped into the role, she’s tackled some major tasks. She developed operating procedures for document management, compiled a new City Policy Manual, and took on the task of reorganizing historical documents long stored in City Hall’s basement.

City Manager Ken Smith described Ellis’s work on the project as “… a behemoth undertaking that called for a meticulous vetting of historical and permanent City records, the creation of an efficient organization system for essentials, and the thoughtful disposable of expendables.”

The result of that project, he wrote in his nomination letter for Ellis, “exceeded expectations.”

Ellis said the award is particularly meaningful because it is the result of recommendations submitted by the Mayor, City Manager, and Finance Director.

“One of the things that I really cherish is that Steve Webb, the City’s Finance Director, said I bring more value to the position than anyone he’s ever met.”

That the award comes from a group of peers is also meaningful to Ellis, who holds the NKMCA in high regard as a valuable resource for municipal clerks.

“After I attended my first spring conference, I thought, ‘how can you do this job without these resources?’ ” said Ellis. “It’s where like-minded professionals to come together for a safe place to share so we don’t have to reinvent the wheel.”

Along with the role of tax collector, the municipal clerk is the oldest of public servants in local government. Ellis, who will be giving a presentation to the NKMCA on the history of the position, said the role dates back to the 1200 A.D.

“It was once upon a time all just memory,” said Ellis. “The original city clerks were called ‘Remembrancers,’ their memory serving as the public record.”


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