The new fiscal court members will be having some learning curves as they navigate themselves through managing the many concerns and problems facing Spencer County now and in the future.
At the special-called meeting on Jan. 3, the court showed that they will be a KRS-driven body, making sure to follow all legal rules and regulations, checking and double checking with newly-elected county attorney Corey Thomas’ office on everything in question.
For example, a first reading of Continuity of County Government Ord. No. 4 was presented to the court, and in the past, magistrates would just read over such reading to themselves, and go onto the next agenda item. It was suggested that the ordinance, that names magistrate 3rd District Jim Travis as the replacement to lead the meetings if judge-executive Scott Travis is absent, be read aloud, so all could hear, and it would be part of the record.
In what was expected to be an “easy read and pass” motion to approve the rehiring of all the current county employees, several discussions and motions were made, remade and amended.
The court unanimously agreed to rehire the majority of the current county employees, including Deputy County Judge Executive Brittany Veto, Road Supervisor Todd Burch, and Alcohol Beverage Control Administrator Scot Heath.
But when it came time to rehire Chris Limpp as EM/EMS Director and Robert
Klinglesmith as Deputy Director, magistrate 2nd District Mike Stump voiced his concerns.
“I see leadership failure in this department, and I think we should hold on this motion, to have time to find more qualified personnel,” said Stump.
J. Travis spoke up and said that in his opinion, “we shouldn’t fire employees this early in the year, especially at the very first meeting.”
Magistrate 1st District Danny Pharris somewhat agreed with J. Travis, stating that the court would “have to have clear expectations to get clear results.”
When it came time to vote on the rehiring of Limpp and Klinglesmith, both separate motions passed 5-1, with Stump casting the lone ‘no’ vote.
Confusion on motions, and proper ways to handle them, came about when it was time to discuss the proposed across-the-board 2% raises for county employees. Including insurance and benefits, the raises, effective Jan. 1, would cost the county an additional $50,000 to $60,000 a year.
A motion to approve the raises was made, and there was a second, but when it came time for discussion, Stump once again was the one who spoke up, voicing his opinion that the time was not right to make this kind of monetary commitment.
“I agree that most employees need a raise; however, I do not agree that we should do it at this time. We need to take the time to evaluate each position, and base raises on facts and findings,” said Stump.
Stump made a motion to “table” the motion until July 1, the beginning of the new Fiscal Year, instead on doing a “blanket raise” now. Since he wanted to “table” the motion, there needed to be a two-thirds majority vote, not just a normal majority pass/fail. That motion failed 3-3, with S. Travis, magistrate 4th District Zach Cotton, and magistrate 5th District William Eldridge voting ‘no.’
The failing of Stump’s motion took the court back to voting on the original motion to pass the two% as presented. But once more discussions arose, a new motion was made to amend that motion to approve the current 2%, a “cost of living raise,” but to also re-evaluate in the near future to see if others deserve more. That motion to amend the original motion passed 4-2, with J. Travis and Stump voting ‘no.’ Both magistrates thought that the court should not spend money that was not in the current budget.
Since the court voted to amend that motion, the newly amended motion needed to go to a vote. That vote had the same result, passing 4-2, with J. Travis and Stump voting ‘no.’