At a special called meeting on Thursday, members of the Harlan County Fiscal Court debated the merits and faults of the 2013 salary cap previously set for the Harlan County Sheriff’s Office.
Just a few days ago, during a fiscal court meeting, a salary cap of approximately $1.3 million was approved for the sheriff’s office. That motion was rescinded, and after a lengthy and vigorous discussion and several attempts of setting an amount, final approval was made for $1,017,131.03 — the same amount established for the sheriff’s office in 2012.
“What I submitted and what was passed were two different things,” said Harlan County Sheriff Marvin Lipfird. “I didn’t change it. During the salary schedule talks during May, Ryan and I sat down for about two hours at the Mexican restaurant and worked out a salary schedule under the assumption my office was operating under an approximate $1.1 salary cap. We were both under that assumption because we both knew that is what I submitted. So, the fiscal court’s obligation now is, do you alter it or do you sit down with me and work something out?”
Lipfird argued he had never gone over his salary cap in the past, adding he has no intentions of going over his salary cap now.
“I will make the cuts necessary,” said Lipfird. “I have no problem making cuts. I’m not saying this to be smart, you all pass what you have to pass, but I have a deputy out in the hospital where I need to be right now and he takes precedence.”
Harlan County Judge-Executive Joe Grieshop said the adjustments (salary cap) made now will be locked in for calendar year 2013. He said this is a cap and that the amount set doesn’t have to be spent.
“If you don’t start now with the picture of the economy as it is now with coal severance… it’s going to be depleted faster as the coal economy changes. If we don’t start adjusting now, we will be facing a problem as we move forward,” said Grieshop. “Come May or June we’ll be doing this with other departments, because they’re on a fiscal year. One of the duties of the fiscal court is to set salary caps.”
Magistrate David Kennedy expressed grave concern over Lipfird’s statement that his numbers had been changed.
“That concerns me majorly,” said Kennedy. “If that, indeed, happened — somebody changed your numbers after we voted and approved…”
Lipfird told Kennedy the court voted on numbers they thought were correct when, in fact, they were numbers he had not submitted and was not made aware that they had been changed.
He said he felt he was “back doored.”
“Was he notified that his numbers were changed judge,” asked Kennedy.
Grieshop addressed the question by saying the numbers were set in a public meeting and then certified and sent to Frankfort.
“I want everybody from this day forward to be on the same page,” said Kennedy. “I think that’s what has caused all this confusion. I’m hearing one say one thing and one saying something else. I just want fiscal court and everybody to be on the same page. If there are any changes made everybody needs to be made aware of it — no assuming they are aware of it. Let’s make sure they are aware of it and we won’t have this problem in the future.”
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