The Covington News - - Lo­cal news -

their own de­part­ments in ad­di­tion to their new du­ties.

The di­vi­sion di­rec­tors’ new du­ties will in­clude some staffing and fi­nan­cial de­ci­sions that Hor­ton would have been mak­ing un­der the old man­age­ment struc­ture as well as deal­ing with em­ployee and cus­tomer com­plaint is­sues.

“ They’ll ac­tu­ally make some in­de­pen­dent de­ci­sions that I would prob­a­bly have been mak­ing in other cases,” Hor­ton said. “There are some de­ci­sions, like pur­chas­ing, that are al­ways go­ing to come to me. Ul­ti­mately, any­thing that can’t be re­solved, it comes to me.”

Cov­ing­ton Po­lice Chief Stacey Cot­ton will be­come the di­vi­sion di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Safety. He will have over­sight over the Fire Depart­ment and E-911 Com­mu­ni­ca­tions in ad­di­tion to the Po­lice Depart­ment.

Util­i­ties Di­rec­tor Bill Meecham is the di­vi­sion di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Ser­vices and has over­sight over Safety/ Risk and En­vi­ron­men­tal Com­pli­ance, Pub­lic Works and the Util­i­ties Depart­ment.

The new di­vi­sion di­rec­tor of Ad­min­is­tra­tive Ser­vices is Per­son­nel Di­rec­tor Ron­nie Cowan, who will now over­see the de­part­ments of In­for­ma­tion Sys­tems, Plan­ning and Zon­ing and Fi­nance as well as Per­son­nel.

The re­struc­tur­ing also cre­ated two new as­sis­tant di­vi­sion di­rec­tors: Cov­ing­ton Fire Chief Don Floyd, who is the as­sis­tant di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Safety for the city and Pub­lic Works Di­rec­tor Billy Bouch­illon, who is the as­sis­tant di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Ser­vices.

Whereas it would likely have cost the city ap­prox­i­mately $140,000 a year in salary and ben­e­fits to hire an as­sis­tant city man­ager, the cre­ation of the new di­vi­sion di­rec­tors and as­sis­tant di­rec­tors only adds ap­prox­i­mately $25,000 to­tal to the op­er­a­tional bud­get of the city in small raises to each of the pro­moted depart­ment heads.

These new di­vi­sion di­rec­tors and as­sis­tant di­rec­tors will serve as a new level of com­mand be­tween Hor­ton and the city’s 10 depart­ment heads.

“It’s a level be­tween me and what was,” Hor­ton said. “What that does is it im­proves in­for­ma­tion shar­ing in that if I’m here try­ing to keep up with what is go­ing on in 10 de­part­ments, I’m pretty well stretched so I might not be shar­ing as much as I might like to.”

Hor­ton said he has also in­structed his di­vi­sion di­rec­tors to put in place suc­ces­sion plans in the event that they quit, re­tire, or die, so that the city is not left with an abrupt ab­sence of di­vi­sion lead­er­ship.

The new di­vi­sion di­rec­tors also en­sure that in the event that any­thing hap­pens to Hor­ton, the city coun­cil will have able, high-level man­agers to work with in the time that it takes to find a re­place­ment.

“I think it adds depth to our bench,” Hor­ton said.

Hor­ton’s changes to the city’s man­age­ment struc­ture were well re­ceived by the city coun­cil who ap­plauded him and his staff for their fis­cal thrifti­ness.

“I’m glad to see you del­e­gat­ing out,” said Mayor Kim Carter to Hor­ton.

City Clerk John Grotheer gave the city coun­cil a brief up­date on the city’s fi­nances and let them know that the city was in strong fi­nan­cial shape as the first year of the cur­rent re­ces­sion comes to a close.

After start­ing the fis­cal year with a $590,000 sur­plus, the city in­creased that sur­plus by about $600,000 by freez­ing hir­ing for nine to 10 city jobs that were un­filled for a to­tal sur­plus sav­ings of nearly $1.2 mil­lion.

The city also has ap­prox­i­mately $48 mil­lion in cash re­serves for the pay­ment of struc­tured-long term debt and for bulk en­ergy pur­chases and other city needs.

“We feel like we’re in rea­son­ably good shape,” Hor­ton said,” adding that the fore­casted de­creases in prop­erty and sales tax rev­enues next fis­cal year aren’t ex­pected to be overly great. “ We’re look­ing pretty flat. We don’t look like we’re de­clin­ing that hard.” In other city coun­cil news: The coun­cil voted 2-4 to not ap­prove a bid for fur­ni­ture and fix­tures to the Elected Of­fi­cials’ of­fice at City Hall. The coun­cil mem­bers that voted against it said they thought the sin­gle bid re­ceived for fur­nish­ings of $22,680 was too high.

Vot­ing in sup­port of the bid were Coun­cil mem­ber Mike What­ley and Coun­cil mem­ber Ocie Franklin.

The bid re­ceived for the fur­nish­ings was from Dario and As­so­ciates, the in­te­rior de­sign firm hired by the city to re­dec­o­rate the of­fice. Hor­ton said two other firms (one lo­cal and one from At­lanta) picked up bid pro­pos­als but did not sub­mit bids.

The coun­cil de­cided to form a new com­mit­tee to re­ex­am­ine the in­te­rior de­sign plans and in­di­vid­ual fur­nish­ing rec­om­men­da­tions put to­gether by Su­san Dario to see if there wasn’t any way to lower the bid price. Franklin, What­ley and Coun­cil Mem­ber Keith Dal­ton vol­un­teered to sit on the com­mit­tee.

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