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County hires interim treasurer, fires finance officer

In less than a week, the Clark County Fiscal Court has fired its treasurer and its finance officer, has now hired an interim treasurer from the county attorney’s staff.

Tuesday, the Fiscal Court met in special session to discuss hiring an interim treasurer. The agenda included a closed session to discuss personnel as well.

Following the closed session, Magistrate Greg Elkins made a motion to dismiss county Finance Officer Frankie Faulkner.

Magistrate Robert Blanton said the meeting was a special-called meeting, and the court was only allowed to act on matters listed on the agenda. Taking personnel action was not on the agenda, he said.

“We’ve had this discussion in the past,” Blanton said. “If it’s not on the agenda, we can’t take it up.”

County Attorney William Elkins said the agenda item for discussion of personnel matters was sufficient to cover any following action.

“That’s enough for me,” Blanton said while walking out of the meeting. “I disagree.”

The motion to dismiss Faulkner passed 5-1, with Magistrate Travis Thompson dissenting.

Kentucky’s open meeting law states that in special meetings, “Discussions and actions shall be limited to items listed on the agenda in the notice.”

Magistrate Greg Elkins made the motion to end Faulkner’s employment, as well as the one to hire Shea Champ as interim treasurer at the annual salary of $70,000.

Faulkner has worked for the county since 2011 and also served as the assistant treasurer.

“Because, given the information I received in closed session, it seemed to me there was reason for the motion,” Greg Elkins said of the motion to terminate Faulkner’s employment. He said it was related to the matters that led to the dismissal of county Treasurer Jerry Madden last week.

Madden’s employment ended following a two-hour closed session by the fiscal court a week ago. County officials claim Madden made an unauthorized financial transfer without fiscal court approval.

Madden said in a letter to Judge-Executive Chris Pace that he was told to do it and the transfer would be approved retroactively.

Madden had been a county employee for six years.

Blanton and Thompson also questioned the process for nominating Champ for the interim treasurer position. Blanton and Thompson said nothing was presented to document her qualifications for the job.

“I’d like time certain for this position to cease and this person’s qualifications before I vote,” Blanton said.

Magistrate Elkins said Champ met the statutory qualifications for the position, that she had a bachelor’s degree as well as experience in keeping financial records.

“Do we have verification of that?” Blanton asked. “How did we come up with the search process for this position? Was it advertised? It seems like there’s a certain process and that process has been ignored.”

Magistrate Elkins said he went out and spoke with people, seeking recommendations for possible county treasurers, and that other magistrates were welcome to do the same.

Magistrate Daniel Konstantopoulos said he contacted several people about the treasurer position “because I knew we’d need someone.”

“I sit here in the dark as usual,” Thompson said. “I know the name … because she worked in the county attorney’s office, correct? I can’t support this today.”

“It’s urgent we have someone appointed,” Magistrate Chris Davis said. “I’m glad we have someone ready to step into the breech. My personal viewpoint is I’d like to give this person or whoever we hire 60 to 90 days to get acclimated.”

The motion did not include an end to the interim position.

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email fred.petke@winchestersun.com or call 859-759-0051.

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