James Keeton

The Allen City Commission hired a new police chief on Monday, with officials reporting the city is close to qualifying for road aid.

After conducting interviews, the commission voted unanimously to hire James Keeton as the city’s new part-time police chief, effective Jan. 15. He will work for $14 per hour on a probationary period for six months and move to $15 per hour after that time.

Keeton, a Paintsville resident with 23 years of experience in law enforcement, also works as a part-time bailiff in Johnson County. He served as chief of police in West Liberty from 2001 to 2005, worked as a deputy sheriff in Montgomery County and started working in private security after he retired.

He said plans to get to know people in the Allen community and said he will have an open door to community members who want to reach out.  He’s already started looking for grants that can help purchase equipment for the police department.

“Meeting with them last night, I really like talking to them because they seem like they’ve got a plan and they really want to try hard. I was impressed with that,” Keeton said. “I figure I can come up there and work and help them.”

During the meeting, Commissioner Elmer Parsons presented an email from the Kentucky Department for local government, reporting that the city successfully filed its 2019 uniform financial information statement. The city now needs to file UFIRS for the 2017 and 2018 fiscal years, and a certified bank statement for 2019, Commissioner Dr. Eilene Kinzer said.

“We’re on track to get everything in line. It’s just going to take some time,” Parsons said.

He reported that Gina Vaughn, the woman hired to work part time to help the city get its UFIRs prepared, is working three evenings a week and her sister us helping her.

“Gina has got her sister helping her, so Gina said if she requires money, I’ll take care of her. Gina said she will do it, so we’re actually getting two for one on that deal,” Parsons said.

Parsons also reported the city mailed out tax bills to property owners.

“We went by the city rates, and I went on the county rates for the old school building and it was way up there, so the guy came back complaining so we amended that, but it’s not over with yet,” Parsons said. “He’s paying taxes on residential property, but that’s got to be commercial property.”

City Attorney Beth Shortridge advised Parsons that Allen cannot bill a property owner a commercial rate unless that rate is approved in the city’s tax ordinance. She advised him to send out tax bills for 2019 and reassess them for the 2020 tax year. She reported that County Clerk Chris Waugh, a former mayor of Allen, has agreed to volunteer to help Allen create a spreadsheet to get its property tax listing in order.

Commissioners talked about the need to establish a process to determine, for taxes, who new property owners are if property changes hands. Commissioner Josh Kinzer reported that his grandmother died a couple of years ago and is still getting bills for property that other people now own.

During the meeting, the commission also read a bank statement into the minutes, showing the city has about $62,980. They reported bills totaling about $1,400 for telephone and utilities.

The commission interviewed one city clerk candidate Monday and officials reported more interviews will be held at a later date.

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