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SHEPHERDSVILLE - In my 30 years at the paper, I’ve learned a couple of things.
First, always beware of short meeting agendas.
Second, often it is better to laugh than to cry.
Both came into play at a recent meeting of Bullitt Fiscal Court.
Things were flying along. One hour and things were about to wrap up.
One more topic - not on the agenda - was mentioned. It was a serious topic but it quickly moved into the comedy genre.
I won’t go into the serious details on the county’s apparent overpayment of insurance premium funds to the city of Hillview. (See story here)
The silliness begins when we start the fingerpointing. It goes downhill quickly.
First, regular attendee Sandy Higgins inquired why the mistake happened with the extra payments to Hillview.
Treasurer Kenann Sharp said that there was an interlocal agreement between the city and the county. She didn’t know it expired in 2011.
Deputy County Judge Lisa Craddock said that the city also had a copy of the agreement and neither side realized it.
The contract was to pay Hillview a set amount (basically $100,000) for not taking a percentage of the county’s 5 percent insurance premium tax.
The fun really got started when magistrate Bob Hunt said it was the county judge’s office that had a copy of contracts to know about the expiration dates and not the magistrates.
He agreed that the fiscal court approves the contract.
At that point, County Judge/Executive Melanie Roberts said it was political season.
It went full-fledge crazy when Depp Rasner asked a question.
“We know why you’re here,” said Roberts, before a question was even posed. “This is not a political forum.”
If anyone in the crowd didn’t know, Rasner is running as an independent candidate for the office of county judge. Tony Thompson is running as the Democratic nominee in the three-way race.
Rasner’s only question was who signed the check.
Sharp said she signs all checks but there is a second signature.
Roberts said Rasner served as deputy judge in her administration until he chose to quit. She said he should be well aware of the process.
If he had any questions, Roberts told Rasner to talk with her at any time outside the meeting.
But magistrate Ruthie Ashbaugh said she didn’t know why that needed to be a private meeting.
She said Rasner is a taxpayer and it shouldn’t have to be a private issue.
Ashbaugh said fiscal court approves the bills so all can take some of the blame.
Craddock said that the second signature on any check would have to be by Roberts or herself.
Hunt said in this particular situation, it was just a human error and those things happen.
“Can we forgive each other and move on?” asked Higgins.
Roberts chided those who may have been laughing about the situation, saying that it is tax dollars involved.
She thanked Ashbaugh and Hunt for approving the new county budget. As part of the budget, positions for a finance director and a planner were approved.
The county judge said that the finance officer will be able to catch a lot of the problems before they occur.
A good move to divert the attention to another topic.
Rasner then got in a final question - is there a list of duties for the new finance director. In the past, the lack of job descriptions has been an issue with fiscal court members.
Roberts countered by saying that would be provided extremely soon.
With part of the drama, you often don’t realize how things sound or look. Plus, with an open forum, you are liable to get all kinds of unsolicited comments at any time from the audience.
I’ve been caught on numerous occasions thinking “did I just say that?”.
If you went back and viewed this (like all the other fiscal court meetings) on YouTube, things are so crazy that they are funny.
But if you are a participant, your comments seem very normal.
My concern is that the political season for the fall races has just begun. We have eight fiscal court meetings to go until the general election.
My other concern is that companies looking to locate do their homework. They look in local papers and on the internet to see how agencies work together.
They are not interested in bring multi-million dollar companies to a community that may not be united.
Bullitt County remains blessed because no matter the disagreements over the years, Interstate 65 trumped any of those concerns. It also helps to have UPS and the airport up your sleeve as trump cards.
There’s no disrespect meant by an occasional giggle or smile. It is better than coming out of a seat and getting unglued.
The moral of the story is that you should beware of any governmental meeting when the agenda is a short one.