COVINGTON — Covington council appointed resident Judy Smith to fill the open council seat previously occupied by Lois Newman during their meeting Monday evening. Newman was also reappointed; however, she will fill the unexpired term of Doris Beeman, who recently resigned from the council. Smith’s term will expire in 2019, and Newman’s term will expire in 2017.
The council heard from Newman, Smith, and another interested resident, Dawn Duff, in regard to filling those two open seats.
“I’ve been on council for the last four years, and I’ve really enjoyed it,” Newman said. “I’ve learned a lot, and I would still like to learn more.”
Council member Joyce Robertson asked about Newman’s recent accident, questioning if Newman foresaw any medical issues based on her “current health.”
Newman explained that she has a broken collarbone and broken shoulder blade, but she does not foresee those injuries getting in the way of her participation with council. Newman was present for the entire meeting and stated that she plans on scheduling her rehabilitation for those injuries around future council meetings.
“Since I’ve been coming to these meetings, I’ve learned a lot about Covington that I didn’t know,” said Smith, who has been a regular presence in the audience at Covington council meetings. “And it’s been very interesting, and I’ve thought that I would like to be council so that I might be a part of the government of Covington and to better ensure that our village stays the nice village that it is.”
“I come to you guys with a background in accounting and auditing,” Duff said, adding that she has an MBA from Wright State University with a concentration in Management, Innovation and Change. “Why I want to be on the council is to be able to serve the city, to get my feet wet … to get the experience of assisting the city to improve itself and ensure that it achieves its goals.”
During council’s meeting Monday evening, Smith and Newman took their oaths of office. Mayor Ed McCord, council member Keith Warner, and council president Scott Tobias also took their oaths of office.
On the order of old business, the council reopened the discussion on the parking ordinances that are currently on the table.
During public comment, business owner Jane Selman asked “that we be reasonable and a little more open-minded.”
“We’re a small town,” Selman said.
Council agreed to make a couple of adjustments. The two major changes that the council agreed to make include the time limit for parking downtown from two hours to three hours, as well as to remove the restriction of parking on the side yard of a residentially zoned property.
According to Village Administrator Mike Busse, it is still against zoning regulations to park in the side yard of a residential property, but complaints will have to be dealt with through Planning and Zoning and not through the Covington Police Department.
“It’s always been a two-hour parking duration,” Tobias said for the parking on High Street in the downtown. Tobias said that they were changing the ordinance to allow for police officers to ticket violators, as the city currently has to go through Planning and Zoning to deal with complaints.
Robertson suggested doing away with parking limits on High Street in the downtown with the exception of trouble spots. The limit of an eight-hour parking limit was also mentioned.
“If you go to eight hours … it’s not really enforceable,” Busse said.
“We heard from business owners that parking downtown is at a premium,” McCord said. “We want to make sure that there is ample parking so that people can visit.”
The council agreed that a three-hour parking limit would be a good compromise. Chief of Police Lee Harmon explained that the police department has to observe the violation. Even if the vehicle has already been sitting in that spot for three hours, officers cannot ticket the vehicle until they mark the tire and observe the vehicle sitting there for another three hours.
For village-owned parking lots, the council also agreed to change the restriction preventing people from parking in the lot between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. to between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. Village employees who are on the clock will be exempt from that rule.
McCord and Busse also mentioned that residents who believe they might become in violation of the any of the parking restrictions for reasons such as visiting family members in an RV or loading a trailer are encouraged to contact the village beforehand.
Also covered during council’s meeting:
• Discussion of the village’s 2016 goals and budget
• Approval of waiving the three-reading rule and amending the pay frequencies for the mayor and council to biweekly
• Approval of waiving the three-reading rule and authorizing a consultant agreement for appraisal review services with O.R. Colan for work performed on the Safe Routes to School project for $3,375
• Approval of hiring Rick Stephan as a full-time maintenance worker with a starting pay of $14.07 per hour
The next Covington council meeting will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 19, at 7 p.m. due to Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, Jan. 18.
Reach reporter Sam Wildow at (937) 451-3336 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall