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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Fort Thomas City Council Roundup 12/21: Council Appoints Chuck Thompson to Fill Vacant Seat

FTM File. 
By Amanda Dibiaso

The Fort Thomas City Council held their monthly meeting Monday, December 21.

The big news of the night was the appointment of Chuck Thompson to fill the vacant council seat.

The council was tasked with appointing a new council member following Councilman Adam Meier’s resignation, which officially went into effect at the meeting.

Meier announced his resignation in November after accepting the position of Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy under Governor-Elect Matt Bevin.

Immediately following last night’s meeting, council went into executive session to discuss candidates who had applied to fill Meier’s position until the term that expires on December 31, 2016.

City Administrator Ron Dill said there was a lot of interest in the position, and that the council considered 13 different applicants in their deliberation.

When the executive session concluded and council re-opened the public meeting, they unanimously voted to appoint Chuck Thompson to fill the seat.

“There were several good candidates,” said Councilman Ken Bowman. “It was not an easy decision.”

Bowman said Thompson, who served on the Fort Thomas School Board until 2010 and is the owner of Fort Thomas business CTS Development LLC, has a lot of experience in Fort Thomas and cares a lot about the city.

“He seemed like the best choice,” Bowman said.

Dill said Thompson will take the oath of office and join council at their January meeting.

Check back for more on this story.

Here’s your round-up from the rest of the meeting:

City Administrator Report:

Dill reported that city staff is still working with the VA homes developer and the VA to begin the abatement process so the project can move forward. He said city staff is finalizing some documents with developer, including the plan for the abatement, and hopes to have the documents to the VA for consideration before the end of the year.

Dill said the VA seemed motivated to continue with the project.

Dill updated council on the Northern Kentucky Water District’s project to replace the water tower behind the city building. He said demolition of the current tower should begin around February 1 and the project is scheduled to be completed in early fall next year.

Throughout the project, there will be no interruption in water service to residents, Dill said.

Consideration of Employees Health Insurance Plan:

Council reviewed a recommendation made by a committee of city staff and union members who are tasked with reviewing the city’s insurance benefits each year. Dill said while the city is currently with Humana, Inc., they proposed a 48% increase in cost to keep the city’s current plan, prompting the committee to request bids from other carriers.

Dill said after a lot of discussion, the committee recommended accepting a bid from Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, which includes an overall increase in cost to the city of 12.5%

The main difference between the current insurance and the Anthem plan is that the current plan doesn’t include any employee contributions - meaning the city covers all insurance costs - but the new plan includes an employee contribution of 30%.

Council unanimously approved the committee’s recommendation.

Target Tax Incentives:

Council discussed the Targeted Tax Incentives, also known as "Pretty the City", program that the Law, Labor and License committee has been working on - a program that is meant to offer tax incentives for property owners to converting multiple family homes into single family homes in the city.

Dill reported that the Fort Thomas School Board informed the city that they cannot participate in the program - meaning the only taxes that could be included in the program would be city taxes, so incentives wouldn’t affect school or county taxes. With only city taxes included, incentives would only be $39 for every $100,000 of work completed.

Mayor Eric Haas said since that isn’t much of an incentive he doesn’t think that property owners would participate.

The council decided to look into other ways to encourage property owners to convert their multi-family properties, as well as encourage the renovation of dilapidated properties in the city.

Council plans to discuss the issue more as part of its visioning process - a process where they are working to make plans for the future of the city.

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