PDS Management Board

NO Image:

Annual work program, budget chart new course for FY2018

Posted on July 27, 2017

Transparency is the hallmark of PDS’ annual work program and budget for the fiscal year that began the first of this month. As approved on a unanimous vote of the PDS Council and adopted on a unanimous vote of the PDS Management Board, the new document includes a number of initiatives—both written and inherent—that take the agency into new territory.

The most noticeable change to the work program and budget, at least to those familiar with past documents, is the budget format change. Where past budgets were created around revenues and expenditures by the agency’s five departments—Administration, Building Codes, GIS, Infrastructure Engineering, and Planning and Zoning—the FY18 budget is focused on PDS’ four programming areas. Those are community planning services, general governmental services, GIS, and One Stop Shop codes administration services.

“Our budgets have always been inward-looking, meaning they relied on a basic understanding of the organization to facilitate their review,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, Executive Director. “And, while we made them available to anyone who wanted to understand our operations, if you didn’t understand PDS’ programs, you could get lost in departmental details.”

Gordon says the new programming budget uses terms that more people know and understand. They include: small area studies; infrastructure inspections; economic development technical support; websites; zoning text/map amendments; public engagement; planning commission support; codes enforcement; building permits; and, rental inspections to name a few.

The new budget format parallels that used by most Kenton County local governments. Gordon says this fact facilitated the review process staff pursues each spring with members of the PDS Council and Management Board. “The format just felt more comfortable to them.”

One objective found in the organization’s work program ties directly to its goal of financial transparency, according to Gordon. It calls on the staff to pursue publishing financial records online using the same OpenGov software used by many local governments across Northern Kentucky. January 1st is included as the goal for this objective to be operational.

The FY18 annual work program includes a number of other objectives that “take the agency into new territory.” Included among those objectives are:

  • publishing an annual report that includes among other things numbers from the now-institutionalized ‘PDS by the Numbers’ initiative—a regular reporting of PDS analytics;
  • pursuing the Z21 (Zoning for the 21st Century) initiative, reviewing and updating as necessary the zoning ordinances that serve many of Kenton County’s 20 local governments;
  • crafting a replacement to Kenton County’s near-twenty-years-old bicycle and pedestrian plans;
  • implementing electronic plan reviews for the land subdivision process, engineering plan submittals, zoning application reviews, and building plan reviews;
  • preparing for the 2020 US Census;
  • ramping up PDS’ public outreach program to keep Kenton County’s citizens up to date on planning efforts of interest; and
  • beginning to plan for the agency’s move to the new Kenton County Administration Building in Covington.

Gordon says these and other objectives are to be funded with a ‘compensating tax rate,’ meaning the same amount of money as the agency used this past fiscal year.

“We know it’ll be a challenge to get this list completed,” said Gordon. “But, if we don’t set our sights high, we’ll never know what we’re capable of achieving.”

PDS’ annual work program and budget are subject to annual review by the county’s elected and appointed officials. The Management Board—an appointed group charged with daily oversight—helps staff create the document for review by the PDS Council—a 20-member group with one elected official from each of Kenton County’s local governments as members. This group is responsible for oversight of setting the tax rate, its members being elected officials. Once these members have approved the work program, budget, and proposed tax rate, the document is sent to the Management Board and staff for implementation.

The FY18 Annual Work Program and Budget will be uploaded soon to the PDS website. Questions about it or other facets of PDS’ operations should be directed to Gordon.


Fiscal Court, PDS resolve funding issues for collocation in Covington

Posted on May 04, 2017

The PDS Management Board voted unanimously on April 27th to accept Kenton County Fiscal Court’s invitation to move its operations to the county’s new administration building in Covington. That building will soon be under construction as the county rehabilitates and adds new space to the historic Bavarian Brewery building at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard exit from I-71/75.

The board’s decision follows several meetings between its members and Judge/Executive Kris Knochelmann and County Administrator Joe Shriver. It also follows an affirmative vote by PDS Council members—elected officials who oversee PDS on behalf of Kenton County’s 20 local governments—following a presentation by Judge Knochelmann.

“Frankly, the county made us an offer we couldn’t refuse,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, PDS Executive Director. “Making this move into cohesive space on one floor will facilitate our efficiency and workflow while also relieving us of our long-term debt was almost a no-brainer. It will also relieve Kenton County taxpayers from paying for two buildings.”

Construction of the new facility is expected to begin this fall with an anticipated occupancy date of early 2019. More information about the project may be found on the county’s website.


PDS Council, Management Board back task force recommendations

Posted on January 03, 2017
At its November 17th meeting, PDS Management Board members approved a recommendation regarding infrastructure inspection fees. This action ended a months-long effort by staff to analyze costs and expenses for the program and recommend a funding strategy that would provide 90 percent cost recovery for the inspection service moving forward.

“Earlier this year Kenton County elected officials serving on the PDS Council challenged staff to complete an analysis of the financial condition of the infrastructure inspection program, and to determine whether the fees paid by developers were coving the cost to perform those inspections”, said Scott Hiles, CPC, Director of Infrastructure Engineering at PDS.

“When inspection fees don’t cover the cost of performing the inspections, the deficit is covered by taxpayer dollars, which is why it’s important that we perform the analysis. We began by forming a task force of elected officials and representatives of the Home Builders Association.”

The task force met for three months, focusing on fee and expense data that spanned a 16-year period. Members determined that at the end of FY16, there was approximately enough money left in the program fund to cover the cost of the inspections left to be performed.

“That showed that based on the 16 years of data we studied, the program was just about where it needed to be at that time,” said Hiles.

Components of the recommendation that PDS Council endorsed and the Management Board members approved included the following:

1.    Leave current inspection fees unchanged through the end of FY17.
2.    Increase inspection fees annually in an amount equal to the Metro Cincinnati CPI-U beginning with FY18.
3.    Analyze staff’s project-by-project data for FY15, 16, and 17 to determine if fees charged are covering roughly 90 percent of costs associated with providing the services. Assure that the costs of inspections to be provided in the future are included in this analysis.

“The annual adjustment of fees referenced in recommendation #2 will help the program fund stay current with the cost of living,” said Hiles. “We’ve never done this before which resulted in actions that no one liked—not staff and not developers.”

“This not only caused the fund to fall behind our targeted cost recovery, but also forced us to propose higher-than-normal fee increase periodically to catch up to where we needed to be. This incremental adjustment should eliminate this in the future.”

Staff began collecting fee and expense data on a project-by-project basis in FY15, rather than just aggregate totals for the year.

“Beginning in FY18, staff will begin analyzing cost recovery using the project-by-project data”, said Hiles. “It’s another useful tool that will help us assure that fees are covering costs.”

Board authorizes Wall of Distinguished Service to honor contributors

Posted on October 07, 2016
At 55 years of age, PDS is taking steps to acknowledge those whose distinguished service helped the agency succeed. The PDS Management Board last month authorized the creation of a Wall of Distinguished Service and set ten and 20 years as the thresholds for consideration of citizen members and staff respectively.

“We created a Wall of Honor several years ago and posted the names of all individuals who’ve served on the Area Planning Commission/PDS Management Board, the NKAPC/PDS Council, and the Kenton County Planning Commission,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, executive director at PDS. “NKAPC had just turned 50 and we thought it was entirely appropriate to honor the organization’s history.”

“What could be more appropriate than to honor the citizens whose decisions built the organization,” he asked.

Gordon says as appropriate as that step was, most agreed that some of the persons whose names appear on the wall should be singled out for their distinguished service to Kenton County and NKAPC/PDS. Many current officials also felt that some of the many professionals who served as staff over the years should be included too.

Upon its creation during October, the Wall of Distinguished Service will include resolutions honoring 18 citizens and five staff members. It will be located physically in PDS’ front corridor where all persons entering its building will be able see it.

FY17 staff work program includes reorganizing operations, budget

Posted on September 01, 2016
PDS operations will be prepared to transition to a new model in the interest of greater accountability by the end of the current fiscal year (June 30, 2017). Whether that transition is authorized depends on staff work to be accomplished between now and the end of the fiscal year’s third quarter.

The organization is structured currently on a departmental basis. If authorized by the PDS Management Board and Council, it would move to a structure focused on programs administered today by the staff.

PDS has operated for several decades within a structure of four main departments—planning and zoning, infrastructure engineering, GIS, and building codes with services provided by an administrative staff. Being structured in this manner meant funding from a budget built around these categories and direction from a work program based on them.

And, while this structure has worked, it has made answering questions difficult about the various programs that are administered by staff. PDS executive director Dennis Gordon asserts that programs are more the focus of inquiries—be they funding or direction oriented—than are departments.

“People couldn’t care less about how our staff is divided,” he says. “They’re familiar with the programs we administer and, as such, frame their questions to us in those terms. We answer their questions eventually after pulling numbers from this department and that department and totaling them… a process that is time consuming and less than transparent.”

Gordon suggests the departmental focus also makes it difficult to compare revenues and expenditures for individual programs.

Take for example PDS’ One Stop Shop codes administration program that enforces building codes, property maintenance codes, and zoning codes for 16 of Kenton County’s 20 local governments. Answering questions about the revenue and expenditures of the program takes time and a calculator because those functions are located within two of PDS’ departments—planning and zoning and building codes.

Another example covers services provided to the Kenton County Planning Commission. Members of that 20-member board deal with staff from two departments as they pursue their responsibilities. Those are planning and zoning and infrastructure engineering. More examples exist.

Under a structure approved preliminarily by the PDS Council and Management Board, the four departments give way to four programming areas that cut across the PDS staff. They are Kenton County Planning Commission, the One Stop Shop program, GIS, and General Governmental Services.

“Our elected and appointed officials have approved this transition in concept; now it’s up to staff to provide the tools to make it work,” said Gordon. “Our first task is to slice and dice the current departmental budget—both revenues and expenditures—into one that’s structured along program lines. We’ll report our financial activities throughout FY17 in both formats so they can make the necessary comparisons.”

Gordon says the ongoing assessment of the programming focus will run through the third quarter of FY17—roughly next February. That’s when work on the FY18 budget begins. If PDS officials are happy with the transparency that results from the new structure, staff will build next year’s budget and work objectives around the four program areas. If they’re not, staff will begin looking for another way to provide the accountability and transparency everybody wants.

Gordon believes officials will like the result. “We’re optimistic this will work or we wouldn’t have exhibited the enthusiasm we’ve shown. It’s going to be a lot of work to be sure, particularly for our accountant who’s responsible for time reports and financial books. But, she was the one who called our attention to the ‘programming-focused’ approach after attending a national public finance officers’ conference a year ago.”

“She’s going into this with her eyes wide open,” Gordon concluded. “We’re confident this is a good move.”

PDS Council elects new officers, fills four seats on management board

Posted on March 04, 2016

The PDS Council—the governing body for Planning and Development Services of Kenton County—met for its annual organizational meeting the last week in January. Representatives of most Kenton County governments were present. Independence Mayor Chris Reinersman was elected the council’s president for 2016; Lakeside Park Mayor Dave Jansing was re-elected vice president and Elsmere Mayor Marty Lenhof was re-elected secretary. All terms run through January next year.

In another voting procedure, councilmembers elected four individuals to serve two-year terms on the PDS Management Board. Elected were former Fort Wright mayor Tom Litzler, Crestview Hills Mayor Paul Meier, Independence Administrator Chris Moriconi, and Park Hills Mayor Matt Mattone.

Litzler, Meier, and Moriconi serve on the Board currently. Mattone will replace long-time board member and former Fort Mitchell mayor Bill Goetz who chose not to run for re-election.

Three other individuals serve on the Management Board, having been elected in 2015 to two-year terms. They are Covington Mayor Sherry Carran, Kenton County Commissioner Beth Sewell, and former Taylor Mill mayor Mark Kreimborg.

As directed by the Kentucky Revised Statutes, the PDS Council provides a forum in which Kenton County planning issues can be debated and consensus achieved. With a membership of elected officials only, the Council is also responsible for final review of the organization’s annual budget and the tax rate that funds it.

True to its name, the seven-member Management Board oversees the professional staff, sets policy to achieve the Council’s direction, and provides oversight for the daily operations of the organization.

Others included on the ballot for seats on the Management Board were Fort Mitchell Mayor Jude Hehman, Elsmere Administrator Alex Mattingly, and Park Hills Councilman Monty O’Hara.

Direction 2030 implementation efforts re-engaging citizens and groups

Posted on February 02, 2015
Work on implementing Direction 2030—Kenton County’s new comprehensive plan—is now underway. Four months since its formal adoption, the plan’s vision is providing the driving force for bringing the community together again. The difference is on the focus, with implementation being the goal.

Direction 2030 identified unique needs within each of Kenton County’s four sub-areas: urban, first ring suburbs, suburban, and rural. The first area of focus for implementation is the rural sub-area. The initiative taken by the residents of southern Kenton County during preparation of the plan offered a natural progression into immediate implementation.
 
The South Kenton Citizens Group has organized itself around four committees that will each address one of the plan’s topics. These committees were formed in October, immediately following adoption of Direction 2030. Their goals are to pursue research and find creative ways for implementation. The topics being addressed by these committees are roads, utilities, zoning, and agricultural education and marketing. Each committee includes seven to ten residents from the area.

“The committees will get together soon to share ideas and then continue to work individually on their assigned issues. By fall every committee will have a good handle on the specific strategies that should be pursued for each of the four topic areas,” said Edward Dietrich, AICP, principal planner with PDS and project manager for rural sub-area efforts.

The zoning committee, for example, is analyzing whether zoning currently in place is effective in preserving the rural heritage of southern Kenton County. Members are also researching ways in which other communities have handled rural zoning. At the end of the process—after input from the larger community—they will focus on implementing a specific strategy that will promote the policies established by Direction 2030 for the rural sub-area.

 “We are a very active group of citizens who care deeply about our rural community. We knew it was important to get involved in the planning phase to make our voices heard. Now we are organizing ourselves around what needs to be accomplished in terms of implementation,” said Kathy Donohoue, a resident of southern Kenton County.

Partner organizations including the Northern Kentucky Water District and the Northern Kentucky Area Development District are working with PDS staff to support the group in its efforts.

Implementation efforts in the urban sub-area are anticipated to begin in late January. These efforts will be tailored specifically towards the topics of interest to urban residents and pursued through a planning process that works for the urban core.

UC planning students begin study work on land uses in KY 536 corridor

Posted on February 02, 2015

A $4,000 grant from the Murray and Agnes Seasongood Good Government Foundation will cover costs associated with an upcoming study of land uses in Kenton County’s KY 536 corridor. Work will be pursued by planning students from a University of Cincinnati studio class in the department of art, architecture, and planning.

The project entitled “Vision Plan for KY 536 Environs” is scheduled to last the entire spring semester (16 weeks) with formal class times twice a week. The final four weeks of the studio will include numerous presentations to the public and to Kenton County planning and legislative bodies.

The class’s report will be used by PDS and the Kenton County Planning Commission as the foundation for future land use and planning studies of the corridor.

“The focus of this studio is on planning and design practices at the regional scale,” said Dr. Vikas Mehta, Associate Professor with the School of Planning and faculty for the studio course. “Its main goal is to expose students to the complexity of working with multiple jurisdictions, regional spatial patterns, land use activities at regional scale, and its impacts on regional resources.”

During the semester, students will explore a number of planning issues that are critical in understanding the cultural, natural, economic, and political structure of the corridor. As an important part of the studio, students will analyze social and physical factors such as the stakeholders’ needs and interests, the natural ecology, urban growth, land use and transportation, public space, and associated patterns in the region. Learning from their analyses, the students are expected to develop a vision for the corridor. Given the significance of current discourse, this studio will emphasize the promotion of planning and design principles, policies and actions that enhance the physical conditions of the region and improve the human experience in it.

The studio will be organized into a five-step structure:

SENSING: information and data collection; mapping - people, places, phenomena;
ANALYZING: organizing, structuring and synthesizing information and data;
THEORIZING: values, goals, objectives, visions;
MAKING: processes, products; and
COMMUNICATING: writing, speaking, graphics.

“The five steps provide a basic structure for the studio. Although these are listed in a sequence, the steps do not suggest a linear process,” states Dr. Mehta.


NKAPC completes review of operations effort with name change

Posted on July 01, 2014
In a move that more effectively describes the scope of services it provides, the Northern Kentucky Area Planning Commission (NKAPC) is changing its name to Planning and Development Services of Kenton County, or PDS.

The change is effective July 1, 2014 and will bring clarity to an organization that while important to the community is often misunderstood.

“Planning and Development Services of Kenton County reflects the true mission of the organization as a service provider on behalf of the county’s 20 local governments,” said former Fort Wright Mayor Tom Litzler, Chairman of the Northern Kentucky Area Planning Commission.

“The new name truly reflects the service area of the organization, not the greater Northern Kentucky community, which was the original mission of the Northern Kentucky Planning Commission as envisioned by Northern Kentucky’s legislative delegation in 1960,” Litzler said.

The name change to PDS will put an end to the confusion created by two connected organizations that both used the term ‘planning commission’ in their names: the Northern Kentucky Area Planning Commission and the Kenton County Planning Commission.

“The confusion that surrounded those two names was always present,” said Dennis Gordon, executive director of the organization. “That unfortunate fact seemed to always cloud the real story which was that as parts of a team, the planning commission and staff were working together to serve the citizens of Kenton County as the law intended.”

Responsibilities assigned to the two bodies by state statute never overlapped over the years, said Gordon. They actually complemented each but “you’d never have known that based on public perception,” he asserted.

A communications assessment conducted for NKAPC in 2011 found that the public’s number one problem with the organization was confusion about the services that NKAPC provides and how they differ from those provided by the Kenton County Planning Commission.

Two other planning bodies will also have new names:
•    The Northern Kentucky Area Planning Council—the agency’s governing body made up of one elected official from each of the County’s 20 jurisdictions—will now be known as the Planning and Development Services Council.
•    Northern Kentucky Area Planning Commission—the seven-member board selected by the Council to oversee the day-to-day affairs of the agency and staff—will now be known as the Planning and Development Services Management Board.

The name of the Kenton County Planning Commission will remain the same since it is this body charged by state statutes with pursuing planning and zoning responsibilities for all Kenton County communities.

Consideration of the name change began following a 2011 petition drive focused on eliminating NKAPC. The Northern Kentucky Area Planning Council launched a comprehensive look at the organization and how it was operating.

The agency’s finances, staffing, administration, operations, and more were included in the assessment, and 16 recommendations to improve the organization’s efficiencies and effectiveness were made.

After a two-year effort completing the objectives set forth in those recommendations, officials turned to the confusion and false perceptions created by the NKAPC name. In the end, they decided that the name needed to be changed.

“The operational changes were made to make the organization more efficient, understandable, accountable, and transparent,” said Crestview Hills Mayor Paul Meier, Vice-Chairman of the newly-christened PDS Management Board. “They provide a more responsive way of providing services to residents, communities, and businesses… and the name is reflective of that fact.

“Accountability is a hallmark of PDS,” Meier said. “These changes were made in part to ensure that the organization continues to be responsive to the concerns of the community as it has for the past 53 years.”

PDS offers a wide array of services – planning and zoning, infrastructure engineering, building codes administration, GIS mapping, and a One Stop Shop program for codes enforcement. It also provides technical support to first-responders in times of emergency, all of which makes the community better, safer, and more professionally planned and developed.

PDS also facilitates economic development by working closely and professionally with elected officials, economic development professionals, real-estate developers, utility providers, and the construction industry in general.

“This collaborative services model saves taxpayer dollars by providing planning and development services on behalf of Kenton County’s 20 local governments, which don’t have to hire staff individually to provide these services,” Litzler said. “PDS works in concert with these local governments to provide services, answer questions and concerns, staffs their planning commission, and ensures that these communities are developed (and redeveloped) in a healthy, safe, and effective way.”

Steve Hensley, Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for Kenton County, said PDS plays a vital role in public safety, including planning for and responding to natural disasters.

As an example, Hensley points to the 2012 tornadoes in Southern Kenton County that took four lives, destroyed 88 homes, and damaged 257 more.

PDS building inspectors arrived immediately after the storms subsided and assisted the relief effort by ensuring that storm-damaged buildings were inhabitable.

“At one time we had 15 building inspectors, checking on structures that were damaged,” Hensley said. “We needed to know if the buildings were safe or unsafe and if they needed to be condemned. They were there without hesitation, and stayed until job was done. To me that shows dedication to the community.”

PDS also assists local emergency planning and response efforts by helping identify storm warning siren locations, mapping flood plains, and using its GIS system to help first responders in emergency situations.

“Most people don’t realize all that (PDS) does in this community,” said Hensley, the former police chief and city administrator of Fort Mitchell. “They are very, very good when it comes to planning and zoning, but they also make our community safer and they make local government more efficient.”

NKAPC work prepares Covington for sidewalk repairs

Posted on April 11, 2014
Sidewalk reconstruction began last week in Latonia. The city’s contractor began replacing sidewalks with the lowest condition rating based on a citywide assessment of sidewalks that was conducted by NKAPC staff. The assessment prioritized sidewalks with significant tree root damage, cracking, and crumbling.

The Latonia portion of the project is estimated to be completed during early summer, pending weather conditions. The contractor’s contract also includes work on sidewalks in South Covington, where construction initially began in November. Due to weather delays after a particularly harsh winter, construction is expected to be completed in South Covington in May.

“We’re proud to have been a part of this effort in Covington,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, Executive Director. “The pursuit of these data amounted to a win-win for both the city and NKAPC. The city got highly-accurate information and we were able to utilize infrastructure inspectors to pursue the work during their down time. Our GIS system made it all so simple.”

The focus on improving sidewalks is part of Covington’s five-year community investment plan which culminated from citizen requests. It is meant to facilitate the city's commitment to being a walkable community and improving property values.

The Community Investment Plan, which was adopted by the city commission in June of 2013, will invest more than $30 million in infrastructure improvements alone over the next five years. Covington's Community Services Division kicked off its $2.4 million sidewalk replacement project in southern Covington in November of 2013. The project is just one of the $72 million Community Investment Plan projects planned over the next five years.

Page 1 of 8First   Previous   [1]  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  Next   Last