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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Fort Thomas City Round-Up (Property Tax Vote - 9-21-15)

The City Council Chambers were full Monday night to see two police officers and one firefighter pinned. FTM file. 
By Amanda Joering Dibiaso

Pinning of Badges
It was a packed house as the Fort Thomas City Council meeting was called to order Monday, September 21. Friends and family of two new additions to the police department and one new addition to the fire department filled council’s chambers to witness them receiving their badges.

Fire Chief Mark Bailey pins a badge on new firefighter Sam Behrle.  
Fire Chief Mark Bailey pinned a badge on new hire Sam Behrle: (picture) and Police Chief Mike Daly pinned a badge on new hires Sean Donelan and Matthew Marksbury.

Chief Mike Daly administers the oath of the police offer to Marksbury and Donelan. FTM file. 
The council, city staff and Mayor Eric Haas welcomed the new hires to the city. Haas said Fort Thomas is a very safe city “because of the police and fire department and everything they do to keep us safe.”

Senator Wil Schroder was in attendance and said he had the pleasure to work with both Donelan and Marksbury in his former position of assistant commonwealth’s attorney in Campbell County.

“You really picked up two great officers,” Schroder said to the council.

Bob Heil Day
Interim City Administrator Ron Dill read a proclamation honoring Bob Heil for his dedication to the city.
Heil, who has served on the city’s planning commission since January of 1995, is retiring from the volunteer position.

The proclamation included making Thursday, Oct. 1 “Bob Heil Day” in Fort Thomas.

Merchants & Music Prep

Chief Bailey and Chief Daly both reported to council that their departments are busy preparing for the Merchants & Music Festival, which is being held Saturday in Tower Park and is expected to be one the biggest, if not the biggest, events the city has held.

Daly said that due to the popularity of the event’s headlining act, Bret Michaels, they are expecting an increase in the event’s attendance.

Beyond requiring that all members of the police department work that day, Daly said they will also be receiving outside assistance from other police departments in the area, the Campbell County Detention Center and the National Guard.

“It will be nice to have them all on board to help and make sure it is a safe day for everyone,” Daly said.

Safe Routes to School Grant
Dill informed council that the city’s "Safe Routes to School" grant application has been submitted.
The city partnered with Southbank Partners to submit the application in hopes of receiving nearly $600,000 in funding from the Kentucky Safe Routes to School program to extend the sidewalk along North Fort Thomas Avenue.

The sidewalk is proposed to be extended from Covert Run/Barrett Drive to the corporation line near Broadview and would be located on one side only.

Dill said the work would almost entirely take place within public right of way of N. Ft Thomas Ave with the exception of a couple of temporary easements that may be necessary for grading.

Dill said he is confident that they’ll receive approval with the help of Southbank.

“It’s nice to have them as our partner,” Dill said. “They see these (applications) through and know the process.”

New Businesses in Fort Thomas
It was noted that three new businesses are opening at 18 North Fort Thomas Ave. – Top This Donut Bar, Colonel De and Kacy Cierley Photography.

Renaissance Manager Debbie Buckley said several other businesses have been calling, asking to move to Fort Thomas.

“It’s really an exciting time in Fort Thomas,” Buckley said.

Sanitation Programs Interlocal Agreement
The city council unanimously (with the exception of Roger Peterman, who was absent from the meeting) approved authorizing Mayor Haas to sign Sanitation District 1’s Interlocal Agreement to participate in the Sewer Lateral Improvement Program.

Through the agreement, which all local cities and counties are being asked to sign, the city is taking responsibility for the repair of sidewalks, curbs and maintenance in their jurisdiction that are affected when SD1 comes in to do necessary sewer lateral repair.

Dill said the city’s public works crew would likely do the work, and he expected the city to be responsible for about 3 repair projects per year.

Duke Energy Utility Easement
The council approved granting a utility easement of a section of city property to Duke Energy.

The 15 foot piece of property included in the easement is located behind the public works building and is needed to construct a new water tower. The new water tower replace the current tower, which was built in 1936.

Tax Rate Ordinance
The proposed property tax rate increase was approved with a 3-2 vote.

Council members Adam Meier and Lisa Kelly voted against the ordinance. Jeff Bezold, Ken Bowman and John Muller voted in favor of the ordinance that would raise property taxes to the highest level allowable by law without a chance for voter recall. Roger Peterman was absent.

The new tax rate is $.390/$100, or 39 cents per $100 of property, up from $.378/$100 in 2014. This new rate will bring in an additional $218,996 in anticipated revenue.

Meier, who has been outspoken against the increase, said he doesn’t feel this increase is necessary since the city already has an adequate reserve.

He said he’d prefer the city have a budget neutral approach and a rate to reflect that need as opposed to an automatic rate increase plus four percent.

Councilman Ken Bowman said in the future he hopes to have the council get involved earlier in the budgeting process, instead of only when the ordinance is written and up for approval. Earlier involvement would allow for more discussion and evaluation of the city’s financial needs.


  1. Interesting vote. Bet Haas was sweating when Roger Peterman didn't show.

  2. Thank you so much for reporting how each council member voted on the tax increase. For future elections, if these council members run again, this information will influence who I do not vote for!

  3. How hard is it for a council member to make it to a meeting? Geez, it's like once a month. Do your job and show that you at least care.