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Posted: February 1, 2014 10:00 p.m.

Main Street may finally move under chamber

Courtesy of Main Street Covington/

The attached PDF contains the minutes from Main Street's January board meeting.

Main Street Covington, the program responsible for promoting and developing downtown, could finally be moving under the Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce after more than eight months of discussions.

The Covington City Council is set to vote at its Monday meeting on a service contract between the city and the chamber to assume control of Main Street.

Chamber President Hunter Hall said in a Friday email he will present one modification made by the chamber board, but otherwise the contract in the council’s packet (which can be seen at CovNews.com) is complete.

The contract ends June 30, but automatically renews unless either the city or chamber votes to end the contract. The contract does not appear to include any provisions substantially different from the way Main Street is operated currently.

Covington Mayor Ronnie Johnston first began pushing the idea last June, because he believed moving Main Street under a chamber that already handles tourism and economic development would be beneficial to the development of downtown. Hall and the chamber board agreed there could be opportunities for synergy.

Main Street was previously funded jointly by the city and county, but the city has been funding the entire program for the past several months when the prior arrangement was canceled. Main Street gets much of its funding from the city’s hotel/motel tax.

A consultant was brought in to weigh in on the transition and said late last year Main Street would work under the chamber’s roof.

The chamber has been going through the process of hiring a new director and has narrowed 21 candidates down to the top three, with a hire possible by mid-February, according to minutes from the last Main Street Board of Directors meeting, citing information from Hall.

Covington council

The council is also expected approve the final reading of an ordinance change to raise the city’s electric rates. The changes are expected to cost the average resident an additional $50 per year in payments. The increase is being implemented to offset the city’s increasing costs to buy power and maintain its electrical infrastructure.

Go to CovNews.com and read "Covington’s power rates are going up" for more details and documents.

Covington Fire Chief John McNeil is also requesting an additional firefighter to bring all of the department’s three shifts to full staff.

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