HAZARD — The Perry County Fiscal Court held its regular monthly meeting on Feb. 16. All members of the Fiscal Court were present, which include Judge Executive Scott Alexander, Magistrate District 1 Keith Miller, Magistrate District 2 Ronald Combs and Magistrate District 3 Kenny Cole. It is customary for the County Attorney to also be on hand for fiscal court meetings, which he was for the month of February. A few local citizens were also in attendance to see the meeting.
The court approved all of the standard agenda items, which consist of the minutes from last month’s meeting, the Treasurer’s Report, and the payment of all bills acquired since the previous meeting adjourned. Beth Caudill gave a positive report for the Senior Citizens Center. Caudill informed the court that the center had been checking on seniors during the winter storms to make sure they are safe. Tony Eversole also gave a positive report for the Sheriff’s Office. The Sheriff’s Office placed a great deal of work into transports during the winter weather to help citizens, which included assistance for the hospital, Hospice, and the Dialysis Center in terms of transport for patients in need. Amendments to the Perry County Administrative Code were approved, which will make it possible for new hires to have less of a wait time before earning sick days and vacation time. The purchase of a new truck for county business was approved. The grants report given by Benny Hamilton outlined the progress of grants the county is seeking. Don Howard also gave an assessment of 9-11 stats. Both the grants report and the 9-11 report showed indication of positive work by the departments.
The floor was open to the public after the reports were given, at which time Eddie Campbell addressed the Fiscal Court. He was granted three minutes to speak, as is the standard procedure. This is the exchange shared by Campbell and Judge Alexander:
“I’m here to address concerns I think we all should have,” said Campbell, “I’ve looked at invoices since Jan., 2015, since you took office; Fiscal Court records, interviews. So what I say is well documented. I’ll start with Jan., 2015. When this court took office, hourly wage employees were released, some were released, and replaced with contract personnel; contract wage of about $28 an hour replacing guys that were being paid about $15 an hour. Now, I know there are some extra costs that go along in budgeting the hourly wage, but I’ll leave it at that right now. The contract wage is about double the hourly wage. Records show a consistent weekly payout for one courthouse maintenance person of about $1,600. Now, I am sure you guys are aware of this. I’m sure you are. Another contract was a grader operator, same money. That contract was awarded to a guy named Scott Brashear, Reliable Resources. Invoices between the 5th of January and the 30th of November show that Reliable Resources were paid in excess of $91,280 and some change for contract work. No questions. No review by the minutes of the Fiscal Court. No approval by either the Fiscal Court or my dear friend, John, the County Attorney, or nothing that I can find in the minutes. One of those courthouse maintenance employees has since filed a wrongful termination suit because he was let go on day number two. I guess that’s a non resolved problem. And then on another matter, when the central air unit failed, you, Mr. Alexander, without confirming or without any consultation with the Fiscal Court, or none that I can find in the record, employed Customized Plumbing Service operated by Stephen Gibson; I’m not acquainted with him. I’m sure he’s a nice guy. When you get benefits and contracts handed to you, most people take them. They probably don’t check to see if they are legal or not.”
“I want the community to know, “Alexander said,”I’m going to do local business every, single time I can. And I have done everything right here legally. I am going to continue doing local business regardless of what he says. That’s me.”
“I’m a full supporter of local business,” Campbell responded, “I am a local business person. The issue, Scott, is the approval and consultation with this body of gentlemen right here, who are put here to approve or disapprove. Basically, they keep you in check and you keep them in check as to wise expenditures of the money that we all pay into. But you approved that without a bid, which is an absolute no-no, a KRS violation. And I am not here to just get you on KRS violations.”
“We have given you everything you have asked for,” said Alexander, “You’ve never one time said, hey can I sit down and talk to you. You’ve never talked to me about this.”
“I shouldn’t need to talk to you about that,” Campbell responded.
“We would have addressed it, and then you could have addressed it here. There is a proper way to do things,” said Alexander.
“Here’s the thing. There are seminars. There is training in Frankfort about the do’s and don’ts. They give you this information, the do’s and the don’ts and the don’ts are put in place to protect all of us. Now, that bid process is put in place for a good reason. You’re aware of that.”
“I’m going to make a motion that we adjourn,” said Alexander, “If you want to meet with me and discuss this stuff, we will. Everything you have discussed up to this point has been in front of the Fiscal Court.”
Campbell urged the magistrates not to second the judge’s motion on the grounds that the information he has obtained is of importance to, not only the people, but to the magistrates, as well. Judge Alexander made the motion to adjourn once again, which was then seconded by Magistrate Ronald Combs, and the court voted to adjourn.
Kentucky law provides strict guidelines for the awarding of contracts and expenditures by local government. All activity by the Perry County Fiscal Court is public record, which includes contracts, payments made by the court and minutes of the monthly Fiscal Court meetings. The Hazard Herald will update further developments.
Sam Neace can be contacted at 606-629-3243 or on Twitter @HazardHerald.