by Jennifer Sierra
The first city council meeting of the year started with a ceremonial swearing-in for all of the council members and the mayor by Judge Popovich. The official swearing in had already taken place prior to this meeting. The February meeting has been moved to February 18th because the city officials will be in Frankfort, Kentucky.
Committees were formed by Mayor Riehl to manage 6 strategic plans for the city: Public Safety, Housing, Economic Development, Infrastructure and Public Services, Governance and Finance, Education and Quality of Life. Each committee is headed up by a council member. Any citizen interested in participating on these committees should apply through the city web site. The applications and committee information will be up on the city web site by the end of the month. Council is hoping to role out the completed committee programs next month. Council member Matt Olliges said that this was the first he had heard of this committee program. “Seems like this is a big shift in the way we have done things. I have had no input on this.” Olliges said. Mayor Riehl said he spoke about it in an orientation with the new council members. Olliges responded by asking if he would be able to choose which committee he would be on and said he was concerned about the additional time commitment.
Council member Olliges mentioned Covington’s abandoned property procedures. Council member Steve Guidugli discussed the ordinances that cities can adopt as seen in ‘KLC’ (Kentucky League of Cities) magazine. Some of the possibilities included: requiring creditors to register properties with the city, provide contact information and assume responsibility for violations; expedited sales of foreclosures; increasing the taxes on abandoned properties and delinquent tax lien enforcement.
City Administrator Keith Spoelker announced that the city is looking for a new zoning administrator. He also mentioned that the city is working with attorneys about the Ackerman Group and that a lawsuit that is now underway. The zoning code text amendments have been passed by the planning commission and the Ashley Development on Van Voast of 8 residential units, was also approved by the planning commission.
Council member Matt Olliges wants to combine the positions of zoning administrator and something else like a community development position. Olliges said, ” We should hold off on hiring a zoning administrator.” His sentiment was backed up by council member Ryan Salzman. Council member Rodney Poynter stated, “I know it is the mayor that hires but we need to find someone that understands what Bellevue is. I would like to slow the process down as well.” City administrator Spoelker said he “wants to find a comprehensive plan and suitable candidate to implement that plan for us. The position is different than it was. We aren’t looking for just a guy to code and recode.”
Jody Robinson, the Assistant City Administrator and Main Street Manager, reported on the First Friday Shop Bellevue event. It falls on National Wear Red Day to benefit the American Heart Association and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. For more information go to www.shopbellevueky.com. Business owners are putting together a heart healthy cookbook for the occasion.
Council member Ryan Salzman said that he and Jody met with Cincinnati Red Bike to discuss the possibility to get the Red Bike program into Bellevue. He added that Covington and Newport were the only other northern Kentucky cities invited to participate so far.
There was as discussion about the Catalytic Fund helping Bellevue with the Marianne Theater and finding a suitable buyer/developer for the theater. a motion was made and passed to spend the money for the fee to pay for the Catalytic Fund to continue.
Jody Robinson also reminded the city that the Polar Bear Plunge will be February 7th, at Joe’s Crab Shack, benefitting the Special Olympics. There is a special “Toss the Boss” portion of the event where the Bellevue Mayor is getting tossed into the cold water.
The Bellevue Dayton Sun wants to know if anyone will be tossing Dayton Kentucky’s Mayor into the cold water for the Special Olympics!
Chief Turner reported that there were no overdose deaths in December in the city of Bellevue. Turner said, “That is a 50% decline over this time last year.” Council member, Matt Olliges wanted to know how Bellevue’s statistics on drug abuse and overdoses compare to the surrounding river cities. Chief Turner said he would attempt to get hose statistics for the next meeting. Council member Ryan Salzman asked about bike patrol and Chief Turner responded by saying that manpower will allow us to be out there this spring. “Thursday, Friday and Saturday are the busiest days and the bike patrol gives us visibiilty.” stated Turner.
Fire Chief, Mike Auteri noted the 2 recent fires in Dayton and also said that in one of the fires, they rescued a cat. The two Firefighter/Medic’s that saved the cat are: Firefighter/Medic Shayne Schnell and Firefighter/Medic Michael Gullett. Tina Koczeniak with Ohio Alleycat Resource, wants to give the guys an award for doing this. The annual “A’cat’emy Awards” event is on February 21st at the Phoenix in Cincinnati, Ohio.