County Judge-Executive sues Fiscal Court

Published 5:06 pm Monday, May 22, 2023

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Clark County’s Judge-Executive has alleged that the Fiscal Court has disallowed him from performing the obligations of his office according to a suit filed in Clark County Fiscal Court last week.

In the suit filed by attorney Jason Nemes of Louisville last Tuesday, Judge Les Yates alleges that the Court violated several provisions of the Kentucky Constitution and infringed on several of his statutory duties and responsibilities.

The suit states that as soon as he was sworn into office, “the Defendants started to act to disallow Yates from performing the obligations of his office.”

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The suit names all the Fiscal Court’s magistrates in their official capacity as defendants: Daniel Konstantopoulos, Steve Craycraft, Chris Davis, Ernest Pasley, Mark Miller and Robert Blanton.

The first prevention of said duties concerned hiring a new Deputy Judge in January.

The suit alleges that a reduction in salary by the Court “was to ensure” that the person Yates wanted to hire for the post “would not be able to accept the job” and so Yates would be “unable to hire a high-quality top staff member.”

KRS 67.711, according to the suit, gives the judge-executive the sole authority to appoint a deputy and the Court has no role “other than to approve reasonable compensation.” 

The suit alleges that the salaries set by the Court for Deputy Judge and County Finance Officer were far below the averages for counties with comparable populations to Clark’s and that a more reasonable salary is needed to attract suitable candidates to assist the Judge-Executive with their duties.

The suit also alleges that the current County Road Supervisor was “reappointed, purportedly and unlawfully for a four-year term” and that a road supervisor, according to KRS 179.020, may not be appointed for a term “that goes into the next county judge/executive’s term.”

According to the suit, the Court allegedly violated the Clark County Administrative Code on April 27 of this year when it “reset the salary for an animal control officer and approved a person for employment for this position” without prior public notice there was “not an inhouse applicant.”

The suit also states that on January 11, 2023, the “Clark County Magistrates approved measures appointing themselves to committees to oversee departments of county government and to represent the county at various agencies,” without Judge Yates submitting the appointments, which is an alleged violation of Chapter 2.1 (8) of the Administrative Code.

The suit alleges that Davis violated the Kentucky Model Procurement Code when he “advised he had negotiated” about purchasing land on the county’s behalf without being designated to do so.

Yates does not “seek any monetary relief,” according to the suit, but does request the following:

  • The reinstatement of the Deputy Judge-Executive salary to its previous level.
  • The reinstatement of the salary of the County Finance Officer to its previous level.
  • Declaring the County Road Supervisor position vacant.
  • Declaring the positions the magistrates appointed themselves to be vacant.
  • Declaring the position of animal control officer vacant.
  • Prohibiting Magistrate Davis from negotiating a contract on the county’s behalf and declaring such negotiations void. 

The Sun reached out to and has received comments from several parties involved in the suit, including Yates and Davis. Those will be featured in a future story.