A recent decision from the Office of the Attorney General concerning the legality of the Nov. 15 special called council meeting garnered the attention of the Benham City Council during a meeting Thursday.
Previous reports state the attorney general’s office wrote “Benham City Council violated KRS 61.823(3) in failing to describe items on the agenda for its Nov. 15 special meeting with adequate specificity to ensure fair notice to the public of the particular topics to be discussed or acted upon during the meeting.”
“The attorney general — I’ll answer that — the letter came back and they ruled that the agenda was vague,” said Dodd.
Dodd said the letter stated where the agenda had listed projects it should have listed the roof on the water plant. The agenda also listed personnel where it should have stated the former mayor was going to resign and somebody would be picked to finish the term.
“That was the only things that they ruled on as far as I know,” said Dodd. “The other were opinions. The agenda was vague, that was the proven thing.”
Councilman George Massey asked Dodd if she had responded to the Office of the Attorney General on the letter.
“I know they sent you the letter,” said Massey. “You had until Feb. 8 (to respond).”
Dodd stated, that according to the city’s lawyer, no response was necessary.
According to Massey, there is more to be done.
“It was an illegal meeting,” said Massey. “That’s what the ruling was.”
According to Dodd, the attorney general did not rule the meeting was illegal.
“I’ll tell you what I’ll do,” said Dodd. “I’ll get Ronnie Cox (city attorney) up here for the next meeting and go through that.”
Council member Wanda Humphrey said the disagreement may have to be settled in circuit court.
“It can be, if you want to take it that far,” said Dodd.
The council decided to wait on the opinion of the city attorney at the next meeting before taking any kind of action.
Discussion turned to the possibility of requesting a state audit of the city’s financial records.
Councilman Robert “Monk” Falls said he was in favor of a state audit.
“The reason I want a state audit is I want to see where the money’s coming in from,” said Falls. “I’d like to see each and every account.”
Dodd said Falls could come into city hall and view the accounts.
“I don’t have a CPA, and we’ve not had a clerk here. Now we’ve got one that’s really efficient and I’d like to try to work with it,” said Dodd.
According to Dodd, a state audit would cost the city about $10,000 per year audited.
The council tabled the issue for a later meeting.
In other activity:
* New city employees Jessica Smith (city clerk) and Tyler Cornett (fire chief) were introduced to the council;
* Dodd advised the council that work was scheduled to begin on the water plant roof by mid March;
* A motion was passed to set aside funds for repairs to the Betty Howard Coal Miner’s Memorial Theater roof.
Reach Joe P. Asher at 606-573-4510 or firstname.lastname@example.org