Cov­ing­ton to look at updates in lo­cal film­ing pro­ce­dures

The Covington News - - LOCAL - Jackie Gutknecht jgutknecht@cov­

The Cov­ing­ton City Coun­cil is look­ing at chang­ing its film­ing pro­ce­dures as pro­duc­tions con­tinue to flock to the “Hollywood of the South.”

City Man­ager Leigh Anne Knight said in the work ses­sion prior to the coun­cil meet­ing that she and other city employees are work­ing to­wards cre­at­ing new film pro­ce­dures that would be tighter belts on the pro­duc­tion com­pa­nies, while also mak­ing the city and mer­chants hap­pier.

She said the cur­rent film­ing pro­ce­dures do not al­low the city to fine film pro­duc­tions that do not fol­low the ap­proved road clo­sures.

“We’ve got to have some more teeth in them,” she said. “We want to be able to – now ob­vi­ously, one of the things we want to be able to do is we want to be able to fine these peo­ple when they don’t abide by what we ask them to abide by, we want to be able to fine them.”

The up­dated film pro­ce­dures will be brought be­fore the coun­cil first in a work ses­sion be­fore ap­proval, Knight said.

“We’ve got to show them that you can’t just walk all over us and you can’t walk all over our mer­chants here in town,” she said.

Knight said down­town mer­chants have been un­happy with the re­cent film­ing and its im­pact on their cus­tomers.

“Our mer­chants were a lit­tle spoiled by ‘Vampire Diaries,’” she said. “Our pol­icy says $200, that’s the in­con­ve­nience fee. ‘Vampire Diaries,’ un­for­tu­nately, would up that ante. You know, even if they weren’t film­ing in your lo­ca­tion they might give you three or four or five hun­dred dol­lars as an in­con­ve­nience fee, which was not what the pro­ce­dure was.”

Knight said the newer pro­duc­tions have fol­lowed the pro­ce­dure more closely.

“They did do what they were asked to do, they did go and give them an in­con­ve­nience fee, but they (the mer­chants) told them ‘No, thank you’ and that they wanted more money,” she said. “So, ba­si­cally what we told them at that point was, that’s the pro­ce­dure, your job is to give them that – you write the check, you of­fer it to them – if they don’t take it, there’s noth­ing you can do about it be­cause you’ve done what you were asked to do.”

Cov­ing­ton Mayor Ron­nie John­ston sug­gested chang­ing the in­con­ve­nience fee to a slid­ing scale de­pen­dent on what day of the week the film­ing oc­curs to dis­cour­age film­ing on busier days for mer­chants.

Cov­ing­ton Res­i­dent Thelma Star Nol­ley raised a con­cern about the film­ing ac­tiv­ity dur­ing the coun­cil’s meet­ing.

“When the movie folks come here, it’s like we’re sec­ond-class cit­i­zens,” she said. “We pay taxes but we have to go all the way around the world to get from Point A to Point B. The streets are blocked off and that’s not fair to us be­cause we’re not mak­ing money.

“Ev­ery­thing seems like it’s go­ing uptown, ain’t no money com­ing to the other peo­ple’s districts. So, you know, there’s a whole lot of things that the city needs to do that the city is not do­ing. Y’all need to start do­ing y’all’s job be­cause it’s not fair to us. Once ev­ery­body leaves, we’re still here, we’re pay­ing taxes.”

Knight as­sured her that the film­ing pro­ce­dures are be­ing looked at and should see updates soon.

“The Vampire Diaries” filmed in Cov­ing­ton for about eight years.

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