The Covington City Council voted unanimously at its May 15 meeting to move $416,000 from city budget surpluses to fund unexpected expenses throughout town.
Those costs include the rising price of health insurance premiums for city employees, mold remediation at the Cooper Memorial Fire Station, renovations at the Covington Fire House and the hiring of an information technology assistant and a part-time water meter technician.
In all, $385,610 was moved from the general fund’s unassigned balance. An additional $30,000 was taken from the city’s BP Fund balance to finance work at the city’s old firehouse.
In other business, the council received its annual report on the Covington sewerage and treatment facility, and the plant received an “outstanding” score, according to Mike Curtis, president of Curtis Environmental Utilities, which completed the survey.
The city scored a 22.5 on its Municipal Water Pollution Prevention environmental audit, which Curtis said is a favorable total compared to other municipalities in the area. It was the best score the city has received on the audit since 2011.
Mayor Mike Cooper told the council that a number of capital projects are underway or soon will be. They include:
• New restrooms at Rev. Peter Atkins Park. Cooper said bids are due on June 28.
• Full replacement of drainage and concrete pavement on Willow Drive in the River Forest subdivision. Work is expected to be complete in September.
• Replacement of concrete panels in several areas within the Oak Alley, Ozone and Savannahs neighborhoods.
• The West 29th Avenue Bridge over Mile Branch. Work was expected to be complete and the span reopened to traffic by the week of May 20.
• Improvements to the West 15th Avenue walking trail. New asphalt and drainage features will be added. The project will be bid soon and work should be complete by the end of 2018.
• Work at the Bogue Falaya bulkhead is expected to be bid soon and underway by summer.
• Cleaning and grading of Blue Swamp Creek and Patricia Ditch.
• Bridge replacement on Cleveland Street.
• West 15th Avenue bridge replacement at Simpson Creek.
District D Councilman Larry Rolling told the council he received word from officials at St. Tammany Parish Hospital that the first portion of a new employee parking lot bounded by Polk, 8th and Tyler streets is open. The second phase of the lot is underway.
Other parking improvements at the hospital are in the works over the next few months, Rolling said, and when complete, work is expected to begin on a three-story addition to the main hospital. That addition would take about two years to complete.
Covington Police Chief Tim Lentz introduced new officers George Crater, Blain Morgan, Keith Talley and Joe Way. The four recently completed a 16-week training program through the Slidell Police Department and will receive another 16 weeks of field training in Covington.
Newly elected District C councilman Joey Roberts was sworn in before the meeting. Roberts won a runoff election with Tim Burke on April 28. He will complete the unexpired term of former councilman Mark Wright, who was elected to the state House of Representatives in late 2017.
“I look forward to doing my best,” Roberts told the council. “I’m thankful, I’m blessed and I’m ready.”