City Manager Tony Massey’s violation of the city’s ethics code won’t be part of his personnel file.
A motion to include the documents failed after a 2-2 vote by the City Commission at Monday’s meeting.
The action surprised the ethics board’s attorney, and its chairwoman declined to comment.
Mayor Gippy Graham and Commissioner Rodney Williams voted against the motion. Commissioners Sellus Wilder and Bill May voted for it.
Commissioner Kathy Carter abstained likely because her duplex was at the center of the ethics complaints filed by two city employees in the Planning and Building Codes Department. Carter did not explain her abstention.
Wilder brought the motion to include Massey’s ethics violation in his personnel file under old business near the end of Monday’s meeting.
The ethics matter was discussed at the Sept. 13 work session after Massey declined to appeal the ethics board’s ruling that he gave Carter an unwarranted benefit by signing a temporary certificate of occupancy for the property with no record of final framing or electrical inspections, clearing the way for Carter’s duplex to be rented.
Massey has paid the $1,000 penalty levied by the ethics board, the maximum it could impose, and the city has paid his legal fees.
Wilder said not adding the ethics board’s findings to Massey’s personnel file was a “real oversight” and “impossible to accept.”
“I realize that a majority of this board has made it pretty clear they don’t feel that our city manager did anything wrong, and that’s a real shame because we have an opportunity to either start restoring our citizen’s faith in local government or confirm their suspicions about City Hall,” Wilder said before the vote.
“We can either send a clear message that we do not approve this kind of behavior, or we could send a clear message that we really don’t mind if one of our city officers is convicted of ethical wrongdoing.”
Williams said the majority of the commission thought no further action was necessary in the ethics matter and argued that’s not the same as taking no action.
“But again, for you to suggest we’re simply ignoring the matter or we haven’t discussed it at length is not quite accurate,” Williams said.
“We have in fact done so, and the board decided that further action was not warranted past the $1,000 fine that has been paid.”
Wilder said the commission’s inaction is a matter of record, though he acknowledged the board had discussed the issue at length.
“I don’t care what anyone says, this board hasn’t taken any action whatsoever regarding our city manager.”
Graham, May and Carter did not discuss the matter before or during the vote.
Human Resources Director Randy Donahue said in his office after the meeting that personnel files contain information on employee pay, reprimands, disciplinary action, training and education records, and evaluations.
Because the ethics board didn’t reprimand Massey in writing, the violation wouldn’t automatically go into his personnel file, Donahue said.
While putting the ethics board’s findings in Massey’s file would be at the commission’s discretion, Donahue said commissioners could reference it in the city manager’s evaluation.
“... The commission does the city manager’s evaluation, so they could always, I guess, reflect the ethics issue on the evaluation should they choose to do so, but that would be their determination to make,” Donahue said.
Donahue said he had no involvement in the discussion of Massey’s personnel file and would act however the commission directed.
There are no provisions in the city’s Code of Ethics that say ethics violations must be put in an employee’s personnel file.
William Ayer, the appointed attorney for the ethics board, said the decision not to put the ethics violation in Massey’s personnel file surprised him.
“I’m surprised. The board did what it did, and Mr. Massey didn’t appeal,” Ayer said. “I guess I’m a little surprised, but they have to do what they have to do as a commission, and I can’t run their business.”
Dawn Hale, the Board of Ethics’ chairwoman, declined to comment.
In other action, the commission:
>Accepted the 2010 Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund Stewardship Award for the city’s work on Cove Spring Park.
>Heard comments from Patricia Vansant on the Municipal Building Art Show in City Hall, which includes paintings, photographs and other works of art.
The project is part of the larger Frankfort Arts 2010 for the World Equestrian Games.
>Unanimously improved ordinances that will broaden types of businesses allowed downtown.
>Fixed the year’s property tax rate at the compensatory 20.7 cents per $100 of property, meaning the city will take in as much in property taxes as last year. This year’s rate is slightly less than last year’s 20.9 cents per $100 in property value.
>Fixed next year’s vehicle tax rate at 22.7 cents per $100 of valuation.
>Unanimously approved an order that will give the commission notice once the legal fees of a city employee reach $20,000 or more.
>Approved purchasing $2,000 in tax software that will allow taxpayers to see online the payment status on their property taxes over a three-year period.
>Approved the purchase of 6.68 acres of land from the estate of Suzanne C. Moore to add to Cove Spring Park.
>Authorized the Frankfort Fire Department to apply for payment of four vacant firefighter positions through the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grant. No city match is required, and the grant would save the city an estimated $98,000 in overtime pay, according to the financial analysis in the agenda.
>Authorized the demolition of property at 102 Noel Ave. The city will pay John Fehsal Jr. $5,000 to raze the burned structure, foundation and shed, and a lien will be placed on the property if the owner doesn’t reimburse the city.
>Accepted the retirement of Stephanie Kalla, a patrol officer in the Frankfort Police Department.
>Appointed Dr. Scott Green and Ralph Ludwig to the Frankfort/Franklin County Plant Board and Carol Smith to the Planning Commission.