At one time, the Pike County Clerk’s Office was supplemented by the Pike County Fiscal Court with funding intended to help the office, which has a multitude of record-keeping and tax/fee collection duties.
However, in a war of words with the previous administration of the fiscal court, that funding was cut and has not been restored since.
Recently, Pike County Clerk Rhonda Taylor asked the court to return the supplement to the office at an amount totaling approximately $325,000. Pike Judge-Executive Ray Jones asked Taylor to allow Deputy Judge-Executive Reggie Hickman and Treasurer Frankie Stacy to go over her finances in an attempt to move from estimates to actual numbers.
According to the discussion during Tuesday’s meeting of the Pike County Fiscal Court, it appears that there are a lot of questions that need to be answered, regardless of whether the court approves a much lesser supplement Taylor requested.
During the meeting, Taylor told the court that, if the supplement is not received, that she would have to lay off two employees. Jones countered that, if Taylor would agree to a suggested change in insurance carriers, as well as factor in fee increases instituted by the Kentucky legislature last year, it’s possible that neither the supplement nor the layoffs will be necessary.
Taylor told the court that she would go to her office and return with a budget reflecting that, but failed to return during the meeting.
We won’t weigh in on whether the court should grant the supplement at this point. However, what we would say is that there are more questions than answers left in this currently open-ended discussion.
Taylor is currently being sued by the man she defeated in the 2018 election over open records and her failure to give documents requested by her opponent, even above an opinion by then-Attorney General Andy Beshear that she had violated the state’s records laws by not complying with the requests.
Taylor discussed in the initial meeting with the fiscal court deficit numbers and numbers from past budgets that were based on estimates, which raises a concern about the record-keeping and budgeting which has taken place in the past.
That’s where the questions really are. We’re glad that Taylor is receiving assistance from Jones’ office and that some real oversight is taking place, but there’s still a lot of questions to be answered. As a result, we’re asking that Taylor be open and transparent not only with the court’s representatives and the court, but also with the public. Comply with the records request that has been pending for going on two years now, allow others, such as Stacy, to look at all financial documents and make suggestions on how the office’s finances can be better run so that deficits don’t occur.
All of us fall into situations where we’re in “over our heads,” but the successful person is the one who recognizes that and enlists the help of others to resolve the issues. Leaving a meeting and refusing to return is not a way to engender the kind of trust that is necessary for transactions such as this.
Money is tight. That’s true for both government agencies and private businesses and individuals right now. Public officials have a duty to ensure that every single penny of the taxpayers’ dollars are spent in the correct manner. If the fiscal court finds that it can and should give the supplement, then that’s acceptable, but it should only be done so as long as they and the public are ensured that all due diligence is done before that is the course.
The clerk’s office and its efficient and effective operation are important to this community. Taylor and all officials who have a say should make that their only goal.