NKY Forum: How can local governments in Kenton County best work together?

For immediate release…
Sunday – July 13, 2014

There’s wide agreement in Kenton County that local government structure could be improved. The unanswered question is how?

The Northern Kentucky Forum will explore that question during a discussion with a panel of experts on Wednesday, July 16, at 6:45 p.m. at the Beechwood High School auditorium (54 Beechwood Road, Fort Mitchell).

“This is the third time the Forum has looked at this topic, and it represents a deep commitment by us to explore this important issue in depth,” said Donna Spears, a Forum board member who has helped plan Wednesday’s event. “A few years ago, the Forum was invited to host a dialogue about local government by Kenton County officials. Our first Forum dedicated to this topic was in 2010 and our second was in 2011. We wanted to take another look now because these discussions have been a catalyst for research and analysis by a citizens group and action by the Kenton County Mayors Group.”

After the 2010 Forum, the Kenton County Government Study Group formed. It is a citizens group chaired by Tom Litzler, the former mayor of Fort Wright. The group commissioned research and analysis by scholars and other public policy experts, looking at the existing structure of local governance in Kenton County as well as options for change. Those options include greater collaboration among the existing cities as well as the possibility of some joint operations or mergers. The study did not recommend an option; its focus was simply to identify possibilities.

The findings were reported in a book published last fall, Kenton County Together: A Call to Action. The book includes this finding: “We found that citizens of Kenton County, and our public officials, believe the structure of our local government can be improved. We found, too, that our community is open to many alternatives, though not settled on a single one.”

More recently, the Mayors Group agreed to appoint a committee to see what structural changes, if any, should be considered in Kenton County. Appointments to that committee are pending. The Forum at Beechwood is designed to bring additional public input to this ongoing dialogue.

The Forum will be moderated by Phil Sparkes, a retired law professor at the Northern Kentucky University Chase College of Law. Sparkes was the author of a chapter in the Kenton County book. His chapter looks at Kentucky’s laws on local government restructuring.

The panelists include: Fort Mitchell Mayor Chris Wiest; Crestview Hills Mayor Paul Meier, who also chairs the Kenton County Mayors Group; Covington Mayor Sherry Carran; Kenton County Commissioner Kris Knochelmann; John Nienaber, a banker and former county administrator; Charles Saddler, an Erlanger resident and former city manager in Kentucky and other states; Dr. Paul Tenkotte, a history professor at NKU who wrote a chapter in the Kenton County book that looks at the history of municipal government; and Laura Milam Ross, an attorney with the Kentucky League of Cities. Carran, Knochelmann and Nienaber were members of the Kenton County Government Study Group.

The Forum is free and open to the public. RSVP is requested to http://reportforum.eventbrite.com.

About the Northern Kentucky Forum:
The Northern Kentucky Forum is a partnership of the NKU Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement, Vision 2015, and Legacy - three nonpartisan groups in Northern Kentucky dedicated to public engagement. The Forum conducts several "public square" events each year around current events and public policy in locations across Boone, Campbell, and Kenton Counties. Forum events are free and the Northern Kentucky community as a whole. Visit http://www.nkyforum.org for more information. 

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