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Thursday, January 5, 2017

A New Fort Thomas City Council Is Ushered In (Roundup January 2017)

The new Fort Thomas City Council held their first meeting on January 3. Councilmen Ken Bowman, Councilwoman, Lisa Kelly with Councilmen Jeff Bezold, David Cameron and John Slawter. Councilman Roger Peterman was absent. FTM file. 
January 3rd saw the first Fort Thomas City Council meeting of 2017, where council took their symbolic oaths of office.

David Cameron and John Slawter joined Ken Bowman, Lisa Kelly and Jeff Bezold on council publicly for the first time.

Each council member had previously met with City Administrative Officer, Ron Dill, privately to be sworn in. City Attorney, Jann Seidenfaden, was also present in those meetings.

Roger Peterman, who had previously won his ninth term of council, was absent from the meeting.

There was not much on the agenda for council to decide on.

The two-hour meeting saw two large presentations to council. The results from the three city visioning meetings and an update from committees for what's happening with the city's 150th birthday celebration in 2017.

RELATED: Fort Thomas Visioning Results Presented to Council

But while there weren't many action or discussion items, there was a glint of difference in tenor.

Generally there are vocal and non-vocal members of council. Bowman and Peterman are generally the two members of council with the most to say, but during a new business item that required council to sign off on an interlocal agreement consisting of Campbell County cities to fund their share of the Northern Kentucky Animal Control Board, new member David Cameron chimed in for clarification.

He wanted to know what share of the funding Fort Thomas was asked to pay and why.

Councilman David Cameron. FTM file. 
Dill told Cameron that the agreement was long-standing and essentially unchanged, having been renewed several times. It was a minor item that ended in a unanimous vote, but it was a clear signal that things may change in the way council conducts business.
Councilman John Slawter. FTM file. 
Fort Thomas’ government is a Mayor-Council form of government, in that there is an elected Mayor for a four-year term, and six Councilmembers for two- year terms. There was significant turnover in 2014, with three new council members joining council. Those members typically have a settling in period.

"The first term is in the books, my rookie term is over and now I'm a seasoned representative with newly elected officials in their first term that I can help get established," said Bezold. "The level of involvement and participation is going to be at a high level from council. Our subcommittees will be quarterbacking the appropriate projects and with the assistance of the Mayor, Ron Dill, staff and council as a whole we are prepared to aggressively advance the city's priorities. This is going to be a exciting couple years, stay tuned."

Onto the rest of the meeting:

A second reading of an ordinance for adoption of an amendment to the Fort Thomas Police Department policy and procedure manual pertaining to sexual assault investigations was read and adopted unanimously. The change was made because a charge to the legislative code last year during the General Assembly of the Kentucky House and Senate.

Dill informed council that the city's auditor is currently conducting the annual audit of the city's finances for the last year. The Finance Committee will look over the audit's results likely next month.

The new Public Works Committee will also meet next month to discuss which streets could be on the cusp of street repair.

The city keeps a candidate list of streets that are in most need of repair out to three years. Last year in February when the Public Works Committee met, they identified seven streets that would be up for consideration in 2017. They include Custis Ave., Washington Ave., LaFayette Ave., Waterworks Road, Lilac Lane, Highview and Diana Court.

RELATED: Public Works Committee Proposes 2016 Street Repair Plan (February 2016)

Also this year, all three of the city's union contracts expire on June 30. There are police, fire and general services unions in Fort Thomas, which usually have terms of two years. These negotiations have generally been pretty smooth, save for 2008 when then-City Administrative Officer, Don Martin, known for his unyielding desire for control, dug in against the Fort Thomas Fire Union.

Negotiations typically include changes to benefit packages, healthcare or cost of living increases for the city's union employees.

At the end of the meeting, council adjourned to executive session where they signed off on a purchase of a multiple-family home on Montvale Ct for $126,850. It's not yet known how the city will use the property, but the back property line abuts the parking lot of The Hiland Building, which provides access to the city-owned Storrs Field and a potential cut-through to Miller Lane.

RELATED: City of Fort Thomas Acquires Property on Montvale Court 

Council will take proposals under advisement before making a decision on what to do with the property.

Family members joined some of the councilman at the meeting earlier this week. FTM file. 

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