Cumberland's new mayor is wasting no time making changes in city hall.
"We're going to be emphasizing professionalism in every aspect (of government)," said newly elected mayor Jeff Harrison after a Tuesday council meeting. " ... You can see the results of what's been done before, and I don't think that's been acceptable to anyone."
Since taking office, Harrison has initiated the computerization of city finances to streamline efficiency, implemented daily department head meetings, introduced a work order system and extended city hall's office hours.
One goal is to promote the authority and accountability of department heads by giving them a clearly defined budget with which to operate.
"They've kind of been stripped of authority for the past several years," said Harrison. " ... If that department head misuses that power and authority, then the department head is responsible."
The new administration's fresh approach was apparent during the council meeting.
"We need to take our town back," said new councilman Jim Bush. "It's been neglected for too long."
With the city operating without a 2002-2003 budget after fiscal troubles brought the council and former Mayor Sara Augusta to odds, Harrison addressed several inherited issues. According to him, accountant Troy Gaw has not completed city audits for the past two fiscal years because Cumberland still owes him $13,000 for previous work.
As longtime councilman Don Disney shook his bowed head, Harrison said funding must be found to pay Gaw, who is reportedly willing to work under a payment schedule.
With the help of the new computerized accounting system, Harrison hopes to have the late audits completed by March.
Incomplete audits have slowed the flow of some funding into city coffers. For the past two years, approximately $92,000 in municipal road funds have been withheld from Cumberland.
With a portion of the audits now completed by Gaw, the money will be released. Harrison suggested using $4,000 of the money to replace dilapidated streets signs which "place an undue liability upon the city."
He also suggested purchasing safety equipment for the city road crew and using $10,000 as a down payment for a new garbage truck. A committee of council members was appointed to study the matter.
Local Government Economic Assistance funding, which has also been withheld from Cumberland, will not be released until the audits are complete.
Committees to research the purchase of a new street washer and the condition of the dilapidated maintenance building were also appointed.
In other housekeeping matters, the council:
welcomed incoming members Bush, Charles Boggs and Loretta Cornett.
voted to terminate a lease agreement for the city's copier. With an average monthly bill of $150, which does not include toner or paper, the council agreed to purchase a new machine.
passed a resolution supporting the installation of a street light on the corner of Central and Main streets. The action is required by Kentucky Utilities before any installation can take place.
voted to declare an old street washer, air compressor and section of an S-10 truck surplus property.
listened as Harrison outlined needed electrical repairs to city hall. One live wire, he said, runs through a door jam.
was briefed on their ethical responsibilities by Andy Meadors of the Cumberland Valley Area Development District.