Lawrence County Librarian Carlie Pelfrey has not answered numerous phone calls ( to the elaborate phone system at the near $8 million facility) from The Lazer staff concerning her refusal to divulge where millions of taxpayer money is being kept nor information about her everyday banking.
While refusing to answer our questions, a public information request she filed in March has been granted by Attorney General Cameron giving her board the opportunity to sue the fiscal court over her own public information request in Circuit court which included similar questions The Lazer made in it’s public information request made last month.
The AG’s opinion was issued because Judge/Executive Phil Carter and the fiscal court failed to answer her lengthy list of information she is seeking including an account of the court’s funds.
Carter said yesterday that he called Attorney General Cameron and explained the information is either already public online and in person at the courthouse or not available in five days. “I think this is an opportunity to see that this lady is doing this to cause trouble,” Carter said.
The concern over taxing districts including library boards setting their own tax rates and separating themselves from the elected public taxpayers. Library boards in many cases have raised their portion of the taxpayers tax to balloon in their coffers.
In Lawrence County the library board has amassed $6 million, Mrs. Pelfry said at the last meeting, and an elegant facility, but Ms. Pelfrey now says the library doesn’t have $6 million as a reason for not opening up on bank records to our media site.
All The Lazer want to know is WHERE’S THE MONEY? What banks and institutions handle our money? And we intend to get that information.
Here’s what Mrs. Pelphrey asked the court to provide in five days
22-ORD-082 April 28, 2022 In re:
Carlie Pelfrey/ Lawrence County Fiscal Court Summary:
The Lawrence County Fiscal Court (the “Fiscal Court”) violated the Open Records Act (“the Act”) when it failed to issue a response within five business of receiving a request under the Act.
Open Records Decision On March 8, 2022, Carlie Pelfrey (“Appellant”) submitted a request to the Fiscal Court for five specific categories of records.
- monthly statements of the Fiscal Court’s itemized expenditures and
- the Fiscal Court’s meeting minutes from January 2019 to present. She also requested
- the Fiscal Court’s tax income,
- annual reports,
- annual budgets and
- amendments for the fiscal year 2018-2019 until present.
On March 17, 2022, having received no response from the Fiscal Court, the Appellant resubmitted her request via certified mail. On March 31, 2022, having received no response from the Fiscal Court, the Appellant initiated this appeal. Under KRS 61.880(1), upon receiving a request for records under the Act, a public agency “shall determine within five (5) [business] days . . . after the receipt of any such request whether to comply with the request and shall notify in writing the person making the request, within the five (5) day period, of its decision.” Here, the Appellant claims the Fiscal Court received her request and did not issue a response. To prove that the Fiscal Court received the requests, the Appellant provides two certified mail receipts that appear to 22-ORD-082 Page 2 be signed by an individual that the Appellant identifies as the Lawrence County Judge Executive. This Office issued a notice of appeal to the Fiscal Court on April 5, 2022, but it has not received a response.1 Thus, the only evidence in this record is that the Fiscal Court received the Appellant’s request on March 18, 2022, but it has failed to respond. Accordingly, the Fiscal Court violated the Act when it did not issue a response to a request under the Act within five business days of receipt. A party aggrieved by this decision may appeal it by initiating action in the appropriate circuit court under KRS 61.880(5) and KRS 61.882 within 30 days from the date of this decision. Under KRS 61.880(3), the Attorney General shall be notified of any action in circuit court, but shall not be named as a party in that action or in any subsequent proceedings.
The Attorney General will accept notice of the complaint emailed to OAGAppeals@ky.gov.
WHAT IS THE BIG DEAL of SB 167 LOCALLY?
Supporters of the new law say library boards, which have taxing authority, should have more oversight from elected officials. But many local librarians worry the bill will bring politics into libraries’ finances, hiring practices and even which books end up on the shelves.
Rep. Patti Minter, a Democrat from Bowling Green, spoke against the bill, saying it’s going to change how local libraries are run.
“This one is going to be hard to put back in the bottle and you’re going to have to answer to your constituents who say ‘why did you mess up my library,’” Minter said.
Eastern Kentucky Senator Philip Wheeler sponsored the measure, which grants county judge-executives the ability to appoint public library board members with no oversight from the state. Currently, potential library trustees are vetted by the state librarian before the county judge makes the appointment from an approved list.
County fiscal courts would also receive more control over library finances and construction projects under Senate Bill 167. Capital spending of more than $1 million would be subject to fiscal court approval, potentially giving magistrates the ability to thwart library building projects.
Rep. Jerry Miller, a Republican from Louisville, spoke in favor of the bill, saying library boards need to be held accountable.
“This is about a special purpose government entity having insufficient oversight from elected officials,” Miller said.
Educational Opportunities and more
In addition to the library board oversight provisions, the bill also featured language allowing libraries to let “educational institutions” lease their facilities or construct new buildings on behalf of the institutions. The inclusion of that section of the bill comes after a spat between the Pike County Public Library and the University of Pikeville, which sought to use the library’s downtown Pikeville facility as part of an expansion of the university.