COVINGTON — Local residents voiced a number of concerns and complaints during the public comment at the Covington Council meeting on Monday evening, bringing up topics of curb painting, illegal parking, trash pickup, village employee positions, and more.
Greg Reynolds of Covington brought up recent discussions where a local resident was seeking to get curbs painted near the Covington schools and sporting fields on Chestnut Street to prevent drivers from parking too close to crosswalks and stop signs. At the council’s previous meeting, Mayor Ed McCord told local resident Kathy Miller that it was the council’s decision not to paint the curbs.
Reynolds, who lives in that area, said that he would find a place to park if the curbs were painted yellow and that his concern was for the children in the area.
“I’m not asking for any special treatment on the east end,” Reynolds said.
The Covington Police Department has a complaint-driven policy in regard to illegal parking, which includes state prohibitions from parking within 20 feet of a crosswalk at an intersection and within 30 feet of, and upon the approach to, any flashing beacon, stop sign, or traffic control device.
“I just think its silly that we can’t afford that minimal amount of money to paint those lines for the safety of the kids,” Reynolds said. “And the excuse that I wouldn’t have a place to park or that somebody else wouldn’t have a place to park, that’s our problem.” He reiterated concerns about children being in that area.
“I’m sure council will take it under consideration,” McCord said.
Reynolds and council member Scott Tobias got in a disagreement when Reynolds brought up Miller bringing this request before council, saying, “All she ever got was, ‘It’ll be discussed.’”
“I told her ‘no’ a year ago, and she was told ‘no’ again this year,” Tobias said.
Reynolds asked why Miller was “allowed to keep bringing it up while I was here and it was just said, ‘We’ll discuss it?’”
“That’s a good question, why does she keep bringing it up?” Tobias said.
“Because there’s a need for it,” Reynolds said, along with others in the audience.
Tobias questioned if there any accidents involving children in that area, to which other members of the audience responded, questioning if the village was going to wait until there was an accident.
“We can’t paint just out there either. This has been discussed many times. If we paint out there, we have to paint the whole town,” Tobias said.
“What’s wrong with that?” Miller asked.
“The whole town would be yellow,” Tobias said.
Covington Chief of Police Lee Harmon was asked for his opinion on whether or not yellow curb painting was necessary, and he said that he did not think it was necessary.
Deb Shively of Covington questioned alleys getting plowed in the winter as well as the village continuing to eliminate alley-side pickup for trash and recycling.
Busse said that the size of the alleys, as they are narrow, was a hazard to all of the village trash trucks. He added that it was their long-term goal to get all of the trash pick-up out of the alleys.
Mike Shafer of Covington reiterated similar concerns to Shively, asking the council to reconsider removing trash pickup from the alleys. He said that there was no convenient way for him to get his trash bins to the street curbside.
“Maybe us residents should have been taken into consideration,” Shafer said.
Shafer also brought up concerns about how, last December, the council approved reducing the village’s income tax credit offered to residents who live in Covington but work outside of the village. Resident taxpayers of the village receive 0.5 percent credit for income paid to another municipality, which is down from the previous full credit of 1.5 percent. Covington residents who both live and work in Covington were not affected by this change.
Shafer pointed out that Covington voters rejected the village’s proposed 3-mill street levy last year, which would have been used toward maintaining village streets. Street maintenance is part of what the increased income tax revenue is funding in addition to the village’s general fund.
“The city residents turned it down, saying that they could suffer with the streets the way they were,” Shafer said about the street levy. “It just feels like I’ve been blindsided.”
Joyce Robertson of Covington gave a statement in regard to when McCord became mayor, when Busse was hired — replacing a street superintendent and the board of public affairs — and the village services supervisor position that the village is seeking to fill. Busse previously explained a position within the village was vacated, so the village administration decided to make that position a supervisor for the water and sewer plants with the requirement that the person be a licensed operator.
Robertson said that she was part of a hiring committee with Doris Beeman, another former council member, and McCord to hire a village administrator at a salary of approximately $50,000. Roberston said that Beeman and she recommended someone from Piqua, while McCord wanted to hire Busse.
“Mike was hired and for more than $50,000,” Robertson said. Busse was hired in 2012. She went over Busse’s duties posted on the village’s website, which include “day-to-day operations of the Street and Utility Departments, the Covington Community Park, and for the future planning and budgeting for the village.”
“And now we’re hiring an assistant,” Roberston said.
Robertson alleged that the new village services supervisor would be “doing Mike’s job,” asking, “If this new employee is going to be doing Mike’s job that we hired him to do, what is Mike going to do? Is he going to be the full-time inspector on the High Street project? Is he going to be writing grants?”
Robertson suggested returning “to the way the village operated before Mr. McCord took over.” She went on saying, “We certainly weren’t $5 million in debt back then, and there is also a rumor that Mike may retire in three years. I wonder how much our debt will be by then.”
McCord and Busse did not respond to Robertson’s statement.
In other business, the council waived the three-reading rule and approved a resolution declaring the village’s intention to proceed under the alternate tax document format. Busse said the village has used this alternate tax document format for the past several years, and he and the village fiscal officer are working on the draft tax budget for 2020.
The council’s next regularly scheduled meeting will be held at 7 p.m. June 17 at the municipal building. The council’s July 1 meeting was canceled due to scheduling conflicts.
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