Emergency financial announcement a hoax? Clerk says property tax monies now coming in;
LOUISA,Ky., -- There were heated moments Thursday night during an emergency special session of the Louisa City Council.
Louisa Mayor Teddy Preston explained that the emergency meeting was called when it was first thought there would be no money to make payroll next week. Preston explained that just after a meeting was called he was notified by City Clerk Kathy Compton that city tax bills had arrived. "Before Kathy let me know this I didn't know how we would make the payroll because we were informed the water company could not loan us any more money," Preston said. "We used up all their cushion and I was told they needed what money they still had to pay their bills."
Some city workers were told by supervisors that there may not be money to make the payroll this time and several of them attended the meeting last night )shown above).
Compton told council that the water company had fronted the city over $67,000 over the past two months and could not afford to go any further.
Preston said he was advised by City Attorney Eldred "Bud" Adams to call the meeting to discuss how the city could find a way to make the payroll and both WSAZ-TV News and WHAS-TV were there to cover last night's meeting as well as TheLevisaLazer.com.
"I believe we are OK," Preston said. "We will be OK for a while, however, we have to find a way to get more revenue in because the tax money from tax bills won't last very long. It may last until January and maybe February but we have to find a way to make it through till the next fiscal year. I will give up the car that was bought for me if that will help. The council can vote to make it surplus and sell it."
Later in the meeting the council did just that on motion of Gloria Johnson. Council members Rita Rose, Chris Daniels, Brad Stark and Johnson were present for the hastily called meeting.
Preston asked the council for any suggestions that might help the financial woes.
Council member Gloria Johnson spoke up and asked about the excessive cell phone bills for city employees.
"After looking through the bills I came across 400 text messages by a city supervisor that were written within two days," Johnson said. "How was he getting any work done?"
Johnson also asked how many employees had cell phones that were being paid by the city. Preston told Johnson that only he and his department heads had phones.
"It is important for us four to have them so I know where the workers are at all times," Preston said. But Johnson asked how the city operated before cell phones. The mayor replied they used radios. Johnson fired back with the idea of using radios again until the financial problems were under control.
"I don't think these workers need cell phones especially to be texting to private indivduals when they are supposed to be working," Johnson said.
Road and Sanitation Department supervisor Greg Slone, then angrily handed his phone to the city clerk and stated that he did not want a cell phone and that he would not take it back. But Preston said he did not want Slone to turn in his phone and that he would have to take it back.
Compton said they could not do anything about the cell phones because they were under contract for several more months. However, she said the service had recently been stripped down to basic service with no texting.
Compton advised the council that the city was being penalized thousands of dollars by two agencies. The first agency was the city's insurance company for not having the premiums paid on time and also not having the retirement fund payments sent in on time.
"If that's the case maybe we ought to go back to the original decision to require city employees pay twenty percent of their insurance coverage instead of the ten percent that was voted on," Johnson said.
Johnson also brought up the fact that the city is paying someone for housekeeping at city hall and also at the Louisa Community Center.
"The community center that is run by the county charges a deposit when it is rented (which the city gets no part of) and if it is not cleaned by those renting it, the county keeps the deposit so why can't we do that," Johnson asked. "And why is it that we are keeping a full time assistant for the city clerk? She should be part time or if she wants to be kept full time she should do the housekeeping around city hall."
Compton said every city clerk has had an assistant except for just a couple of years since decades ago. Compton commented that "the council had the mayor over a barrel with he budget and that's is why they are acting out in this way."
Councilman Bradley Starks immediately fired back on Compton asking her for an explanation to the remark she made.
"Hold on. Why are you saying WE have the mayor over a barrel," Starks said. "WE did not make this crisis we inherited it and every time we all, like Gloria, tried to make suggestions to try and fix the problems YOU have some reason why it won't work. All you want to do is raise taxes and we are trying to solve the issues of why we are in this shape," Starks said. "Didn't we approve a balanced budget that was supposed to take care of all these bills and payroll? What happened to that?"
Compton said that was what was on paper but not necessarily what actually came in.
"Didn't you make the budget?" Starks asked Compton.
She replied "no the council and the mayor did".
Starks said he, along with the council, did not make the budget and that was her job to get the numbers. "We voted on it because we are not here every day and that's what we rely on you for is to give us accurate information for us to base our decisions on."
Johnson said that because so many of their suggestions were shot down that she would no longer suggest anything she believes will help the city.
"Brad is right you are always saying, no matter what we suggest, you say it can't be done," Johnson said to Compton.
It's because I am here every day and I see what can be done and what can't," Compton said.
Starks reminded her that was what they relied on her for, however, he also told her that things were gonna have to be done and said she needed to quit turning down their suggestions on ways to solve the city's problems.
"How can I do that," Compton said. "I have no control over what you all decide to do."
"No but you always tell us when we try to come up with a plan that it can't be done," Starks said. "All you want to do is raise taxes and trash rates and we are trying to find cuts elsewhere to keep from having to do that."
After more arguments, the council did vote to sell the mayor's car and asked to go over the budget at the next regular scheduled meeting Tuesday evening.