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County budget battle to continue Thursday

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By William Carroll

The Spencer County Fiscal Court’s budget battle will continue Thursday with both the county judge executive and two of the magistrates taking opposing positions on the issue.
Spencer County Judge Executive Bill Karrer said that the magistrate’s special called meeting on May 13 was an illegal meeting that he was not invited to. Spencer County Clerk Lynn Hesselbrock, who normally takes formal minutes during fiscal court meetings said she was also not invited to attend.
Karrer said that the meeting, while illegal did not result in anything during the regularly scheduled meeting the following Monday. Karrer wondered why magistrates needed additional time to review the budget.
“I gave the magistrates the budget earlier this year than I did last year,” Karrer said. “During the meeting I went over the highlights of the budget and at that time no one had any questions.”
Karrer explained that the budget must be submitted to the Kentucky Department of Local Government for approval as to form and function.
During the May 13 meeting, magistrates had voiced their concerns over a number of line items in the budget proposed by Karrer. Specifically the magistrates looked closely at the sheriff’s budget and expenditures for buildings among other considerations. Magistrates said during the meeting that they would like each of the county department heads to come before them during the regularly scheduled meetings to explain certain budget requests.
“Did they (magistrates) invite any of the department heads to their meeting?” Karrer asked rhetorically. “From my understanding, none of the department heads were invited. How do they (magistrates) expect answers if they didn’t ask any of the department heads to attend.”
Karrer said this is an ongoing problem with the magistrates.
“They don’t ask for information, they didn’t ask for any department heads to come to our meeting Monday,” he said. “They have had all the time they need.”
Karrer said that at the next meeting he will suggest that magistrates come up with their own budget.
“I have done my job,” he said. “I presented a budget to them. If they want a different budget I will tell them to come back with their own budget for approval.”
Magistrate Jerry Davis said that is exactly what he intends to do.
“The judge surrendered his entire file folder which includes the budget requests and notes he made,” Davis said. “He (Karrer) instructed me to prepare my own budget and submit it to Karen Curtsinger so that she can prepare it for the next meeting.”
Davis said that he will be working in tandem with magistrate Mike Moody to determine a possible proposed budget.
“Mike will come at it from a slightly different angle and we will put our proposals together,” Davis said. “Mike will go through the numbers and I will look at the folder the judge provided to see if there are changes that need to be made.”
Moody said that he believes everyone should have input on the budget.
“I have always felt that we should all be involved in the process,” Moody said. “In the past Bill (Karrer) would write it up and drop it on us at the last minute leaving us little time to make changes.”
Moody added that he felt it was important to go through the budget in some detail prior to approving the first reading.
“We have been tricked on this before,” Moody said. “In the past we were told that we should just approve the first reading so it could be sent to DLG and that we could make changes later, only to find out that we couldn’t make the changes we want to make.”
Moody said his goal is simply to acquire information so that the court can make an informed decision.
“We are not given all of the information we need,” he said. “I do plan to ask specifics about line items in the budget on Thursday. We need to make sure where the money is going. This is everyone’s money.”
The fiscal court’s continued meeting is scheduled for May 29 at 7 p.m.