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After finding even more concerns with the proposed budget of the County Clerk’s office, the Spencer County Fiscal Court voted Monday night to funnel expenditures and revenue of that office through the general budget, bypassing the clerk’s budget altogether.
County Clerk Judy Puckett has resubmitted budget proposals and budget information to the court at least three times in the last two months, only to have court members raise concerns about issues such as salary, benefit payments and income projections. The latest round of questions came in Monday night’s court meeting in which Puckett was grilled for several minutes about how she reached certain numbers in her budget.
The court then approved the first reading of an ordinance that would establish a fee-pooling and purchase-order system for the offices of the County Clerk and Sheriff’s Department in Spencer County. The Sheriff’s Department has been operating that way for nearly a decade, but the process will be new to the clerk’s office.
The discussion began Monday evening when Judge-Executive Bill Karrer began questioning information about payroll in the clerk’s office submitted by Puckett. He said there was overtime paid out to deputy clerks that was not documented, and that pay records submitted by Puckett were handwrittten, there was no record of withholdings and said the numbers didn’t add up to cover the expenses of the current staff.
Meanwhile, Magistrate Mike Moody asked several questions about how Puckett arrived at projected revenue figures and why they differed significantly from the original budget she proposed in January.
He also questioned the effeciencies of the office by comparing the relatively low amount of excess fees collected by Puckett’s office compared to other counties.
In light of these concerns, Karrer moved to enact the fee-pooling and purchase order ordinance that will require Puckett to turn over all revenue she collects on a monthly basis, and have all expenditures paid for through the county’s general fund, with the court’s approval.
The court voted 4-1 in favor of the ordinance with Magistrate David Goodlett being the lone ‘no’ vote. Puckett was unavailable for comment Tuesday morning, but voiced her displeasure with the action immediately before the vote.
“I don’t agree with it,” she said before Karrer called for the roll call vote.
Karrer said Tuesday morning that other counties have utilized this provision in the past, even though it has led to some legal battles. Currently, he said the latest ruling from the state court of appeals had sided with a fiscal court’s ability to operate in this manner.
He said the court could readdress the issue at any point in the future or a new administration is free to abolish the ordinance, but he said as far as he is concerned, “at this point, it is a permanent fix.”
In other action Monday night, the court:
- Heard a report from Randy Wise concerning new Federal Highway Administration regulations regarding road signs. Currently, the county has the capability to manufacture their own road signs, but new regulations over the next few years will require larger lettering and reflective backgrounds, increasing the cost of an average sign from the current $9 to about $35. The court agreed to phase in the new signs as older ones have to be replaced.
- Approved the 2011-2012 Rural Secondary Road Program recommendations from the state, which include the resurfacing of 2.294 miles on KY 1633 and just under two miles of KY 3192.
- Approved the purchase of radio equipment for the ambulance and emergency services.
- Approved a hazardous materials ordinance for Spencer County.
- Heard from resident Lawrence Trageser, who questioned the effectiveness of the Economic Development office.
- Heard an update from Road Foreman Todd Burch about clean-up efforts at the county road garage, efforts to recycle scrap metal at the facility and heard updates on some county roads.