Joe P. Asher
During a meeting of the Harlan Fiscal Court on Friday, it was agreed that Harlan County would join other Kentucky counties in a class action lawsuit against Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems Inc, or MERS, to recover the loss of mortgage assignment fees.
According to Harlan County Attorney Fred Busroe Jr., MERS has allegedly been performing duties that should fall to the County Clerk’s Office.
“There is an entity that’s called MERS, Mortgage Electronic Registration System, that the allegation is doubling as a county clerk across the commonwealth,” stated Busroe. “Anytime you borrow money you sign a mortgage which evidences the note. The note is the actual contract to repay. This company registers and assigns and trades around these actual contracts rather than filing it in the County Clerk’s Office as they are required to do.”
Busroe explained there are several participants involved in this legal action.
“It’s a contingent fee arrangement, meaning there’s a couple of law firms that are involved, a couple out of Washington D.C., one out of Lexington and Speaker (Gregory) Stumbo is also of council,” advised Busroe. “The counties that are currently involved are Boyd, Breathitt, Carter, Christian, Clark, Floyd, Franklin, Greenup, Johnson, Letcher, Magoffin, Mason, Pike and Warren.”
Busroe explained there would be no cost to the county to join the lawsuit.
“There are no monies up front. Whatever monies are recovered, they take 25 percent of it in attorney’s fees and they’ve asked us to waive any copy costs we have,” said Busroe.
A motion to join the class action was made and passed with no opposition.
The court discussed budget issues relating to a proposed purchase of a new vehicle. Harlan County Treasurer Ryan Creech brought the matter before the magistrates.
“One thing that was mentioned that’s not in the budget — Disaster Emergency Management — we’d discussed before about getting a truck or an SUV for them. There’s $22,000 in the budget, apparently in his equipment account. It would probably cost an additional $13,000 to $14,000,” said Creech.
Creech pointed out the vehicle currently being used did not belong to Harlan County.
“It belongs to Breathitt County,” said Creech.
According to Creech, the choice is between a Ford Explorer or Expedition.
“The way that I understood it, the Expedition is a few thousand dollars more and may cost a little bit more in gas, but it would allow him to put all his equipment in that vehicle instead of having to go somewhere to pick up equipment and then go to a scene,” said Creech.
Harlan County Judge-Executive Joe Grieshop explained other options should be considered.
“I was looking at the gas mileage between one verses the other and how many events do you have where you need everything,” said Grieshop. “This truck will be here for awhile. Right now he’s getting about nine miles to a gallon if he’s lucky. If we can move that all the way up to 20 something miles to the gallon that makes a significant difference.”
Grieshop explained the vehicle would not need to be fully equipped at all times.
“Probably 80 percent of the time that vehicle is not doing direct activity that requires that equipment. Isn’t there some way that we could have that equipment somewhere it could be grabbed quick and have most of it in there? Could a smaller vehicle handle that?” inquired Grieshop.
Grieshop clarified the vehicle would not be purchased immediately.
“We just talked about putting it in the budget, that’s all we’re talking about at the moment. We’re not talking about purchasing today. When we vote on the budget we’ll vote on it,” said Grieshop.
In other fiscal court activity:
* A motion was made and passed approving an insurance policy for county employees.
* A motion was made and passed fixing the salary for an administrative assistant position at the county road garage at $29,500 effective July 1.
* Members of cub scout pack 149 performed the pledge of allegiance and prayer.
Reach Joe P. Asher at 606-573-4510 or email@example.com