County Ethics Commission called to evaluate Fiscal Court

Calling on the County Ethics Commission to review the Fiscal Court’s spending. That’s what the McCracken County Attorney is doing to determine who, if anyone, violated county ethics standards.

Last week, we told you about the audit the state completed on the McCracken County Fiscal Court. The audit found the Fiscal Court spent a total of $6.5 million when they only approved $4.3 million . This means the court spent $2.1 million of unapproved county taxpayer money.

The County Attorney is asking the County’s Ethics Commission to convene for the first time in years. This is to determine if anyone violated County Ethics Standards.

One of the points in the 50 page audit advised the Fiscal Court to consult the County Attorney’s Office on whether the Fiscal Court paid some employees double as an hourly worker and a contract worker.

According to the Internal Revenue Service, a worker cannot be treated as an hourly employee as well as an independent contractor. The audit found two employees were treated as such and issued 1099’s instead of W-2s when working on the renovations to the Emergency Operations Center.

Newly-sworn in County Attorney, Sam Clymer said his office has jurisdiction over the EOC. Clymer says this fact did contribute to his decision to involve the County Ethics Commission, but it’s ultimately an issue of safeguarding public trust, “If something to me, even if there’s a potential of a violation or there’s an appearance of impropriety I think that’s enough to forward it through to make a final determination.”

The new McCracken County Fiscal Court will be meeting for the first time Tuesday night. They will not be discussing the state audit because they’re formally waiting for direction they requested from the state level in regards to the audit.

New commissioner, Bill Bartleman says it’s important to set aside politics to properly assess the issues in the audit and ultimately help the county, “There’s no allegations of fraud of any kind but it occurs if the correction isn’t made, but the correction will be made and our objective is to deal with this, put it behind us and make sure the concerns raised in the audit are corrected.”

Bartleman says with as much money the County sees, it’s important to follow procedures correctly especially to protect against problems like these happening in the future.

There’s no word as to when the Ethics Commission will meet, but when it does it will hold some legal weight. The ethics commission is comprised of three members and when they organize hearings, they can call anyone to the hearings they hold in order to make their final decision. If the Commission cites anyone in violation with any findings, they can impose penalties, fines, even charge with a misdemeanor or defer the issue to circuit court if they choose.

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