New official pushing reforms for board that oversees Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky Airport

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HEBRON, Kentucky — Less than three months after taking over as the top elected official in Kenton County, Kris Knochelmann is spearheading positive changes in the board that oversees the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky Airport.

The Kentucky Enquirer (http://cin.ci/1CUAJft) reports Knochelmann was instrumental in pushing for an effort approved this month by Kentucky lawmakers that restructured how the Kenton County Airport Board is made up. In addition, he is advocating for a more restrictive travel policy among board members.

The changes come after months of turmoil at the agency including questions about spending that led to an investigation by the Kentucky State Auditor's office, controversy over personnel and the abrupt resignations of three board members.

"One of the top reasons for looking at board reform is to improve accountability," Knochelmann told The Enquirer. "Everybody now knows there are more eyeballs looking at the board and elected officials."

The airport is located in Boone County but is owned by Kenton County. Under the current setup, the Kenton County judge-executive appoints the seven voting members of the board's executive committee. Under the new board structure, which takes effect July 1, four other elected officials will also have the ability to appoint 13 voting members to the board.

Meanwhile, Knochelmann is also pushing for a new policy that would cap the amount of money board members can spend on travel. He attended a finance committee meeting this month to advocate for the change, and the panel recommended the cap to the full board, which will vote on the issue April 20.

"I have been extremely impressed to see the amount of change that Kris has already brought to the board," said board member Nathan Smith, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear's appointee to the airport advisory board. "I thought Kris made excellent points — saying we would be more in line with most public boards rather than having a situation where there aren't many rules."

The seven current executive members of the board were appointed before Knochelmann took office and their terms extend beyond June 30 but the judge-executive said he has no plans to call for any to resign.

"I think everybody (on the board) now has the best interest of the airport and the community in mind," Knochelmann said. "Even though there may be some disagreement about the past, everybody's looking to the future."


Information from: The Kentucky Enquirer, http://www.nky.com

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