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Covington hears first reading of utilities ordinances
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Three ordinances, each written to amend provisions of the electric system and water system, were read for the first time at the Covington City Council meeting on March 2. The change could reduce city revenue by up to $700,000.

Covington City Manager Leigh Anne Knight said the changes would make city utilities more competitive with other utilities companies, adding a new tier to electric and water system rates for large commercial and industrial users.

The current rate structure charges customers using over 50,000 gallons per day $5.70. That rate would drop to $5.45 if the ordinance passes. The electric rate structure would drop the current rate of 7.6 cents per kilowatt hour to 6.8 cents for large industries.

“The idea being,” said Mayor Ronnie Johnston, “to bring business into the communities and to keep existing industries is here.”

The third ordinance, which repeals conflicting ordinances and clarifies definitions of prohibited activities at eat-in restaurants and food services, was reviewed at the recommendation of Police Chief Stacey L. Cotton. The clarification primarily addressed the percentage of alcohol sales allowed as well as the percentage of the square feet of a dance floor.

Cotton said that there were no issues currently, it could be in the future. “Once we get this in place, we can move forward, while making sure the city gets the taxes it needs.”

Following another reading of the three ordinances, the council can then vote for or against them.

A fourth ordinance, amending the code on delinquency on the payment of occupancy tax, was unanimously approved after its final reading.

Changes to the city’s human resources policies on military leave, drug and alcohol use and workers’ compensation were unanimously adopted. Changes adopted included clarification of issues around military live, including re-employment rights and retirement benefit options.

The city’s employee drug policy was amended to include a new section on counseling options and consequences for violations of the policy, making them applicable to all employees.

An application to sell alcoholic beverages for off-premise consumption was approved for Shell Food Mart-Washington Prime, LLC, on Washington St.

City Manager Leigh Anne Knight announced that a citizen’s academy offered by the city police will begin March 5. The class size has been limited to 20 people and is already closed, she said.

The academy provides participants with a glimpse into the workings of the department, learn about available services resources and programs, and introduce residents to members of the police department.