The Harlan Fiscal Court voted to accept the Kentucky Auditor of Public Account’s audit of the fiscal court during a special called meeting on Tuesday.
After a motion was passed to accept the audit, Magistrate David Kennedy spoke to a crowded courtroom.
Though Kennedy did not specifically address issues found in the audit, such as quarterly reports not reconciling with bank statements by $3.9 million, quarterly report cash not reconcilable with detailed general ledger cash by $2.7 million, failure to record millions of dollars of debt-financing obligations and inadequate reconciliation of financial documents, he did point out that the auditor’s office “reported no illegal activity.”
“First I’ll start with the treasurer’s office,” said Kennedy. “I have to say I’ve known the treasurer his entire life. He’s one of the most honest men that I know.”
According to Kennedy, the problem lies in the process and procedures Treasurer Ryan Creech employed.
“There was no criminal violation,” said Kennedy. “There’s no money missing.”
Kennedy then addressed the auditor’s findings in regard to Harlan County Engineer Leo Miller.
“He is an independent contractor,” said Kennedy. “He is the county road engineer. Again, there is no violation of the law pertaining to his firm. We are going to have to change some language and wording on his position. This court is addressing that.”
Kennedy also spoke about Harlan County Judge-Executive Joe Grieshop, saying he and Grieshop did not always agree.
“But I have to say this, Joe’s always had the best interest of the county at heart,” said Kennedy. “He’s an honest judge.”
Kennedy told those in attendance the magistrates take their responsibilities seriously.
“We are not a bunch of crooks that sit up here,” said Kennedy. “We worry about this county.”
Kennedy stated the fiscal court has provided the county with 15 snow plows and over $5 million in water and sewer lines. Kennedy also mentioned the county’s road department, commending them for keeping the roads clear of ice and snow.
Kennedy went on to point out some projects the fiscal court has supported, including little leagues, parks, walking trails and senior citizen’s centers.
“We don’t have the money we used to have,” said Kennedy. “But yet, under this fiscal court’s leadership, you have not seen a raise in taxes. You’ve not seen an occupational tax and a lot of things you see other counties putting in place.”
Kennedy stated the audit was thorough.
“If there was something there they would uncover it and we would be indicted before the grand jury,” said Kennedy. “People there’s nothing there. Procedures, yes, and we’re going to correct those procedures that they want us to do and we’re going to take action on each and every item on that audit.”
Before wrapping up the discussion, Grieshop stated the court was working on complying with the recommendations found in the audit.
“We’re moving in the right direction,” said Grieshop. “We have a solid fiscal court budget, it’s just that somehow procedures didn’t meet what the state wanted, and so we have to get those improved.”
Joe P. Asher may be reached at 606-573-4510, ext. 1161 or on Twitter @joe_hde