You would think that a tiny city in rural Eastern Kentucky that has a history of corruption and cronyism would exercise the epitome of transparency and eliminate the back-door politics. They apparently haven’t learned their lesson.
By now you may have heard that the city has been trying to annex a lot of property. Property that does nothing for them except increase their costs while taxing an already struggling area. And by virtue of the fact that the people are coming out in droves to secretly-called meetings to ask questions, which the politicians are sheepishly avoiding, says that they are up to something that will hurt the people.
In recent years, city officials have been indicted and imprisoned for fraud, among other crimes. We have a source that tells us that the corruption is rampant, and that people are looked at for no reason other than they are not on board with the corruption. This is textbook bully behavior, and makes the entire region look bad.
We have asked the city for financials they are required to provide as a public entity. They reluctantly sent us an incomplete bank statement with the balances blocked out. Upon questioning the city attorney, he stated that we didn’t ask for that specific information, which is fancy lawyer-speak to try to protect their client. After threatening to contact the AG’s office we finally received documents with balances, but other stuff was redacted again, including the city hall phone number. The city has responded to the AG and provided us with a copy of the response, and the process continues.
The bank statement we have received shows a negative balance for the entire period. Consistent negative balances tell us that they can’t afford what they have now, so taking on more is absurd. And if they annex all the property they want to, they will have to pay out to all the fire departments in the district, and you know that money will come from increased taxes.
During this annexation process, officials have called double secret meetings, which are illegal. Sen. Johnny Ray Turner and a host of concerned citizens showed up at one of the illegal meetings, the council cowered and cancelled the meeting. Sen. Turner is opposed to the annexation, if that tells you anything.
Last Wednesday evening, the mayor scooted out immediately after the reading of the proposed ordinance and avoided questions form the media and public. Other members of the council couldn’t answer any questions. Either they are complicit in the forthcoming negligence or just ignorant. Either way, it’s dangerous.
It would be one thing if they came out and said they needed that property to help their buddies in the contracting business get bids for work. At least we would know where they stand. If they were open with their plans, the citizens of the area would be able to make informed decisions.
Now it just looks like they are bullying their way to higher taxes without and representation.
A pretty hacked off group is calling for the city to dissolve. While that may be a little extreme, I understand their point. It appears as if they city leaders can’t be trusted. Former officials have gone to jail, and lightning can strike twice.
Thanks for reading the Floyd County Chronicle and Times.