Falmouth mayor’s actions questioned

By Ed Salerno Falmouth Outlook, Reporter To follow up on last week’s articles about Falmouth City Council, Matthew Best agreed to an
interview with The Falmouth Outlook. Back in 2014, this citizen of Pendleton County had a few questions regarding the
financial reporting of the Festival Committee to City Council. They receive a lump sum of money from Falmouth City Council, as
do many other departments,and according to Best, there is required reporting back to the council regarding just how that money is spent.
In August of 2014 Best requested all documents pertaining to the Festival Committee’s Finances as they relate to Falmouth City Council under the
Open Records Act which states“In 1976, the General Assembly enacted the Open Records Act, KRS 61.870 to KRS 61.884,which establishes a right of
access to public records.The General Assembly rec- ognized that the free and open examination of public records is in the public interest. The General
Assembly has also recognized that there is an essential relationship between proper records retention and management and records access. All public
records, whether they are stored in a computer or on paper, must be open for inspection unless the records are exempted by one or more of the fourteen
exemptions found in the Act. All public agencies are required to make nonexempt public records available to any requester,and to provide suitable facilities for exercise of the right of inspection. A public agency may not consider the requester’s iden- tity or purpose in seeking access to public records.”This request was not fulfilled. Best said that he then contacted the State Attorney General who informed him that his application, though not completed exactly right,was clear enough to have received a response to his request. Best then resub- mitted his request, dotting all the i’s and crossing all the t’s. No response.This process, by Matthew Best, led him to look even deeper into the finances of the City of Falmouth to see if perhaps there might be ways to save the city money. For,as of 10-22-15 the city was $20,000 in debt with an additional $1,350 in debt for printing, dinners and telephone. Further as of this writing, there is no budget approved by council for the July 2015-July 2016 fiscal year. When Mr.Best attempted to speak at the most recent council meeting 11-10-15, during his presentation, the major
content of which he says is contained in this article, he was cut short and not allowed to continue.Best claims that all the information he wanted to present to council on11-10-15 was gleaned from records obtained by him in his most recent open records request for any and all records such as the gen- eral budget, expenditures,grants, revenue and so on of the City of Falmouth.Besides the budget deficits, he found that lump sums of money were in fact given to each
department. He stated that there were no documents showing how that money was spent by any department including the Festival Committee.Though by law there ought to be a reckoning of such accounts according to the Kentucky League of Cities.But perhaps, most significantly Best stated, there were two checks, which he presented to this reporter, signed by Mayor Hinson with no line item in the budget. In fact, there is no budget at all for this fiscal year as of this writing.
One of the checks was to the Sheriff’s Department to assist the city police during the time the city was searching for a new chief of police. That one was for
$2,401. The other check was made out to Ziegler and Schneider, Attorneys at Law on 10-16-15 for the services of Michael Duncan to represent Mayor
Hinson in a hearing by the City of Falmouth Ethics Board (CFEB). According to KRS 91A.030 subsections 1 and 13:“(1) Each city shall operate under an annual budget ordinance adopted and administered in accordance with the provisions of this section. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no city shall expend
any moneys from any governmental or proprietary fund,except in accordance with a budget ordinance adopted pursuant to this section.”(13) No city agency, or
member, director, officer, or employee of a city agency, may bind the city in any way to any extent beyond the amount of money at that time appropriat- ed for the purpose of the agency. All contracts, agreements,and obligations, express or implied, beyond existing appropriations are void; nor shall any city officer issue any bond, certificate,or warrant for the payment of money by the city in any way to any extent beyond the unexpended balance of any appropriation made for the purpose.”This particular check was co-signed by a council person,Mary Ann Shields, who is not authorized to do so. This is clearly not an issue of being bonded as Best was misquoted as saying in the 11-17-15 issue of the Outlook “Mayor’s Attorney Fees Questioned.” And again, as Best made clear, there is no such budget item for such expenditures.This co-signature by Shields, according to Best, falls under KRS 83A.130. “The council shall not perform any executive functions except those functions assigned to it by stat- ute.” Further in a email obtained by Best from Chris Johnson,Legal Services Attorney, Kentucky League of Cities, Johnson states, “A council member cannot sign the city checks. KRS 83.130 Delegation of this mayoral duty should be done via an executive order to a subordinate non-elected officer/employee. If a council member signs a check someone could challenge the validity of the check since this is not within the council’s legislative powers. This is a separation of powers issue.”Upon obtaining this information and the check in question Best said that he took the check to the The City of Falmouth Ethics Board (CFEB) Chairperson Joyce Carson. Carson was quite shocked because,as Best stated, Carson, in an interview back in the summer of 2015 with Mayor Hinson,concerning a host of ethics charges against her, Carson asked if she, the mayor, was getting an attorney. Mayor Hinson
stated that she was going to get one and pay for it herself. Further according to Best, then city attorney Louis Kelly saw no reason to represent her at the
hearing as CFEB has no legal authority to bring charges but could only send the case on to a higher authority who could.What was so upsetting to Carson
was despite this advice and Mayor Hinson’s statements that she would pay for her own attorney, Mayor Hinson proceeded to hire an attorney using city money and according to Best, remove Kelly as the city attorney. Again, according to Best, the City of Falmouth has no city attorney. Duncan simply represents Mayor Hinson, as he stated at a council meeting, “I am here for Mayor Hinson, to act in her best interest,” as Best says. CFEB ruled on 8-20-15 to take no action following receipt of a letter dated 8-19-15 sent by Duncan defending the mayor which document Best is in possession of In all, the ethics committee heard nine issues regarding Mayor Hinson’s behavior as shown in documents given to Mr. Best by CFEB chairwoman Joyce Carson.Best shared that currently Falmouth City Mayor Elonda Hinson is being sued by no less than four persons. To date his questions regarding the reporting of the various departments as to just how they spend the money given them by city council have not been answered Suffice it to say, by law those reports should be made. At the 11-10-15 meeting, as Mr. Best said, Attorney Duncan said that Falmouth Search and Rescue could not have any money until they could itemize its use. This is new, and not how business has been conducted in the past

10th region sports Showcase Boys Basketball Preview

This Wednesday will be our biggest show EVER! 4 hours of coverage from 6-10 with nearly every coach in the 10th Region either calling or stopping by the studio. Here’s a rundown of guests:

6:10- Mike Code- Brossart
6:20- Matt Taylor- St. Pat
6:40- Scott Humphrey- GRC
6:50- Nick Sosby- Bourbon
7:10- Ryan Neises- Calvary
7:20- Aric Russell- Campbell
7:40- Brad Carr- Scott
7:50-Larry Kendall-Harrison Co
8:10- Matthew Daniel- Montgomery
8:20- Terence Brooks- Paris
8:40- Brian Kirk- Augusta
8:50- Jason Hinson- Bracken-
9:10- Keaton Belcher- Pendleton-