Thursday, April 13, 2000

9 months late, city has budget

BY Ray Schaefer
Enquirer Contributor

        LUDLOW — Nine months and 11 days after the fiscal year began July 1, this Kenton County city of about 4,700 has a budget.

        City Council voted 5-0 Wednesday to override a veto by Mayor Tom Stacy, which means the $1 million budget council approved March 8 goes into effect.

        “It's the best budget we've got in front of us,” Councilman Ron Wofford said after Wednesday's special meeting. “Any budget's supposed to be adhered to. I know we're going to begin work on the 2000-2001 budget. We still have to address the water department (and) the fire department.”

        Councilmen Ben Cloud, Jack Redd, Garry Hatter Sr. and Fred Brooks cast the other votes to override Mr. Stacy's veto. Councilwoman Sharon Dietz did not attend the meeting.

        If Mr. Stacy has his way, the fight over the new budget is just beginning.

        “This budget has line items that have exceeded limits set for (departments) in their budget,” Mr. Stacy said. “There are other items, such as unemployment insurance, that have no money. It does need amending right away.”

        Council also unanimously overrode Mr. Stacy's veto of a personnel ordinance. Mr. Stacy said council improperly added the motion to override to Wednesday's agenda because it did not notify the media of the change within 24 hours as required by state law.

        Mr. Stacy said he would have City Attorney Pete Summe take the matter to Kenton Circuit Court and seek nullification.

        Because the personnel ordinance is needed for the budget to pass, Mr. Stacy said the budget could then be questioned.

        The ordinance lists 15 city positions, including eight in the police department. It eliminates a clerk's job and the assistant chief slot Benny Johnson held — the only deletions from past ordinances — and adds a lieutenant position.

        Mr. Johnson earlier this year filed charges of official misconduct against Messrs. Redd, Wofford, Cloud and Hatter, accusing them of improperly demoting him to lieutenant. His salary remains the same.

        Kenton County Attorney Garry Edmondson later ruled the action moot when Mr. Stacy originally vetoed the budget.

        “What council did is illegal,” Mr. Johnson said after Wednesday's meeting. “The only one who can demote me is the mayor. I'm entitled to due process.”

        Council also discussed changing a portion of city parking regulations regarding trucks over 6,000 pounds gross weight on city streets. Further action was postponed until tonight's regular meeting.

        Mr. Brooks was cited March 11 and again Saturday for illegally parking a flatbed truck and wrecker, respectively. He said other trucks have not been ticketed.

        “I'm not complaining about the policemen not doing their job,” Mr. Brooks said. “I think (the ordinance) should be changed.”

        Mr. Brooks said he paid both tickets, but Police Chief Tom Collins said only Saturday's has been paid.


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