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Mayor: City investigating ‘potential irregularities’ in its finance department

Mayor Dick Heaton and City Clerk Gary Little review information on their iPads prior to the start of Tuesday’s Bardstown City Council meeting.

By JIM BROOKS
Nelson County Gazette / WBRT Radio

Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019 — A press release handed out at Tuesday’s Bardstown City Council meeting has generated more questions than answers after the release revealed an investigation into alleged “potential irregularities in the City’s finance department.”

According the press release read aloud by Mayor Dick Heaton, he was informed of the “potential irregularities” late Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019.

An investigation followed, and by Friday afternoon, Sept. 20, 2019, the release states “all funds were accounted for, subject to further investigation and an annual audit, which is ongoing.”

“Due to the pending investigation, I cannot comment further at this time,” Heaton said.

EXECUTIVE SESSIONS. While there was no statement or indication by the mayor or council that it was related to the Mayor’s press release, at the end of Tuesday’s meeting, the council conducted an executive session regarding personnel that had been added to the city council agenda since last Friday.

The state statute for an executive session for personnel limits that open meetings exemption to three specific activities: the possible appointment of, the possible discipline of, or the possible dismissal of an individual employee.

After Heaton cited all three as the basis for the executive session, the reporter asked him to be more specific about the basis for the closed meeting.

According to numerous opinions of the Kentucky Attorney General, an agency can’t cite all three as the basis for going into executive session to discuss personnel.

This reporter read aloud an applicable passage from page 17 of the Kentucky Attorney General’s 2019 version of “Protecting Your Right to Know” that covers the Kentucky Open Records and Open Meetings laws.

After Heaton conferred with City Attorney Audrey Hayden, he said the discussion in the executive session would cover both the possible discipline and the possible dismissal of an unspecified employee.

At the same time, the council also held an executive session regarding “of proposed or pending litigation against or on behalf of the public agency.” When asked if the litigation being discussed was proposed or pending, Heaton said he couldn’t comment.

This executive session followed a prior executive session regarding the possible acquisition or sale of real estate.

The council emerged from both closed sessions and went on record that it took no action and adjourned the meeting.

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