Benham City Council welcomed new fire Chief George Birman during a meeting on Thursday. The new chief jumped right in, updating council on a situation concerning his department and state aid funds.
“We’ve got some issues that go all the way back to 2002,” said Birman. “Presently, we’re not eligible for any state aid money. We’re not eligible for any FEMA grants. We’ve got to get all that taken care of.”
Birman said the problem with the state aid money stemmed from a misunderstanding concerning what items could be purchased with state aid money.
“Me and Jess (city Clerk Jessica Smith) met with the Kentucky Fire Commission… and once she gets all the invoices together, we’ll know exactly how much money’s going to have to be paid back before we’re eligible for any state aid money or any FEMA Grants,” said Birman.
Smith explained the issue further during her report later in the meeting.
“The Fire Commissioner was here last week,” said Smith. “We went through the checkbook and went through the bank statements.”
Smith said the commissioner indicated what expenses are allowed to be paid with state aid and which are not.
“There’s only certain things you can do when you get state aid money,” explained Smith. “What had happened was in previous years that money was saved. You can’t save it, you have to spend it.”
Smith said eventually the saved funds were applied to expenses not eligible to be paid with state aid money.
“There were some things it was spent on that it shouldn’t have been spent on,” said Smith. “Things that were paid for that were not approved were things such as grass cutting, light bills and a couple of other things.”
Smith indicated there was still work to be done in order to resolve the issue.
“We had to figure up the things they wouldn’t pay for and the money the city had paid back for things they took out of the account,” said Smith. “We have to see if those numbers match. If they don’t, we’re going to have to raise some money to get this cleared up to be able to move on.”
In other activity council:
* Received one bid on a surplussed garbage truck for $1,000. The bid was not accepted. The truck will be put back up for further bids;
* Gave permission for Alan Layne to apply for a grant from the Bob Frazier Foundation on behalf of the Tri-Cities Little League.
Joe P. Asher may be reached at 606-573-4510, ext. 1161 or on Twitter #joe_hde