Council approves budget, design services

By Sam Wildow -

COVINGTON — Upon approving the village’s 2018 budget during the recent Covington Council meeting, the council approved a number of projects and expenditures Monday evening, including two for the future reconstruction of High Street.

The village’s official 2018 expense budget is for approximately $5,836,000, and their 2018 revenue budget is $4,953,189. The village’s total 2017 year-end fund balance was $1,639,869, and the village estimated that its total 2018 year-end fund balance will be approximately $757,058.

Following the 2018 budget’s approval, the council approved a contract to Access Engineering for the first design phase of the High Street reconstruction project. The cost of the contract is $75,000.

Village Administrator Mike Busse said that this design phase will include identifying right-of-way plans, gathering additional topographic survey information, and creating a preliminary design for the project. He added that he expected to hold public meetings regarding the project later this summer.

The council also approved a contract to Choice One Engineering for the High Street signal and traffic study. The cost of the contract is approximately $13,500.

Busse explained that the traffic study will study traffic patterns, driving speeds, and the amount of cars on High Street in preparation for the street reconstruction project.

The village’s south side wastewater lift station will also be getting a makeover as the council approved a contract with Access Engineering for the design and bidding services for the project.

“The south lift station is by far our most important lift station in town,” Busse said.

The scope of the project will include replacing the pumps and installing a backup generator, Busse said. The new pumps for the lift station will be grinder-style pumps to allow the pump to grind up items that get caught in the pump. Busse said that they have gotten bath towels caught in the lift station.

The cost of the contract is $22,500. This project will be funded through a low-interest loan through the Ohio Public Works Commission (OPWC).

Also utilizing OPWC funds is the wastewater plant renovations project, which is ongoing. The council approved a progress payment of approximately $247,029 to Jutte Excavating, which will be paid through the village’s OPWC grant and loan.

The council also approved entering into a 36-month agreement with IGS for the village’s electric generation. This agreement is not a part of the village’s aggregation program for residential customers and only applies to 17 locations owned and operated by the village.

The new agreement comes at a lower cost than the village’s previous agreement with IGS. It is $0.04850/kWh while they previously paid $0.0529/kWh. According to estimates from IGS, the village is expected to save approximately $38,812 over that 36-month period.

The council then approved renewing the village’s employee health insurance plans through Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield. The renewal will come with some changes for the village’s employees and their spouses.

“This renewal has slightly higher deductibles than last year,” Busse said. “I am also recommending that council modify the employee benefits on this plan to require spouses of employees that have insurance options at their place of employment to take insurance through their employer instead of being on Covington’s health insurance.”

Busse said the provision regarding employees’ spouses is to help offset the proposed 16.8 percent increase in their plan costs for 2018 and that the village found that to be most cost-effective way to absorb that increase. If an employee’s spouse does not have an alternative source for health insurance, Busse said that the village will continue to cover them. The council indicated that they approved of implementing that provision.

Following that resolution, the council approved accepting a donation of $35,000 from the Covington Community Chest. The donation will go toward the replacement of the lights at the small ball diamond, and the labor costs will also be donated through the summer baseball committee. The work will be completed in August, Busse said.

The council then voted to accept the Tax Review Council’s recommendation to continue the tax abatement for Concept Machine for 2018. This is the final year for their tax abatement under their current agreement, Busse said.

The council also approved the purchase of a new police cruiser from Lebanon Ford through the state of Ohio cooperative purchasing program at a cost of $37,206. The village will finance the cruiser through Covington Savings and Loan for three years at a 3.75 percent interest rate.

The council waived the three-reading rule on all legislation that required it.

By Sam Wildow

Reach Sam Wildow at or (937) 451-3336

Reach Sam Wildow at or (937) 451-3336