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Covington, Newton County discuss future of Main Street
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Covington and Newton County have agreed to form a joint committee to study whether Main Street Covington should be brought completely under city control.

Covington Mayor Kim Carter requested that the city take over the Main Street program, which is responsible for promoting economic growth in downtown Covington, to streamline the organization’s structure.

To offset the city taking on Main Street’s $82,362 budget, of which the city currently pays half, Carter proposed that the county assume full control of Keep Covington Newton Beautiful, another jointly-funded program.

County Chairman Kathy Morgan and some county commissioners said they first want to study the implications of changing the organizations’ structures. She said the county has a large footprint downtown and wants to stay involved in its development. She proposed an eight-person committee, with two members each from the city council, the county board, and the Main Street and Keep Covington Newton Beautiful boards of directors. The committee would give a report by March 1.

Carter agreed, but wants the change to be made immediately. She contends the city is able to move more quickly on downtown issues because it has a smaller purview than the county. She said some of Main Street’s plans have been delayed because the city and county have been unable to meet on this topic.

Main Street Director Josephine Kelly is a city employee, but is overseen by the city, county and her own organization’s non-profit board of directors. City Manager Steve Horton said this can put her in a difficult situation if the parties have differing opinions of the actions she should take. Moving Kelly under the city would clarify the chain of command.

Similarly, Keep Covington Newton Beautiful’s executive director is a county employee who reports to the county. The issue has been discussed since spring, when the council approved a raise for Kelly, but the county did not because of a lack of funding.

Carter appointed council members Chris Smith and Keith Dalton as the city’s representatives to the committee, but as of Thursday afternoon she was waiting on the other entities’ appointments.

Main Street was formed in 1987 and KNCB was formed in 2004. Because the county reimburses the city for $41,181 for Main Street and the city reimburses the city $29,604 for KCNB, the county would save $11,577, Carter said in a previous letter to the county.