In recent weeks we have detected a pattern of indecisiveness by the Franklin County Fiscal Court.
On two important discussions in the past month — temporary "hero pay" for frontline workers and approving the county’s share of the 2020-21 Kentucky Capital Development Corp. budget before a May 15 deadline — leaders have talked a lot but done nothing.
At the height of the coronavirus pandemic in mid-April, the court elected not to vote on a short-term $2 per hour pay increase for essential county employees — such as firefighters, inspectors, animal control, deputy jailers and deputy sheriffs — who are at a higher risk of exposure to COVID-19. Salaried deputy coroners would have received a $50 per week stipend.
The pay bump would have been for 10 weeks and cost the county $155,820. Following a lengthy debate over whose responsibility it was to approve the measure — the court’s or the judge-executive’s alone — leaders eventually had the item removed from the agenda.
Fast forward to Friday, the final meeting for the fiscal court to OK $115,000 in funding for KCDC’s 2020-21 fiscal year budget, of which the city and county pay an equal portion. KCDC President/CEO Terri Bradshaw informed the court that May 15 was the deadline for approval of the KCDC budget — which she presented at the March 26 fiscal court meeting — in order for her board to OK it in time for the next fiscal year.
Magistrates ignored repeated warnings from Judge-Executive Huston Wells and County Attorney Rick Sparks that delaying a vote could cause KCDC to temporarily shut its doors and possibly force the three people on the payroll — Bradshaw, executive assistant Margaret Gray and administrative intern Erin McQueen — to seek unemployment benefits in July.
It’s the same corner the court pinned the agency in last year, which led to employees working despite not being paid until later. With the current coronavirus pandemic, Bradshaw said she will not ask them to do it again. And she shouldn’t have to.
“By continuing to kick the can and pass this down to the end, this lack of action is going to have serious ramifications in this agency and this court. If there’s a problem with (the budget), then fix the problem,” Sparks told the court. We couldn’t agree more.
Sometimes the worst decisions are indecisions.