County account garnished by court order

Clark County unexpectedly lost more than $8,000 Friday, thanks to a court order from a 2008 civil case.

Clark County Judge-Executive Henry Branham said he received a letter Thursday from Traditional Bank about the garnishment per an order from U.S. District Court.

“I don’t agree with it … but we have to do it,” Branham told the magistrates Wednesday morning. “We were not notified in advance. It’s very unprecedented. There’s attorneys that are confused about it.”

Clark County Attorney Brian Thomas said the suit was filed in Fayette Circuit Court in 2008 regarding a list of properties added to the National Register of Historic Places. The property in question is part of Lower Howard’s Creek Nature Preserve, which is in both Clark and Fayette counties.

Branham said attorneys from the Kentucky Association of Counties are representing Clark County in the proceedings, but KACo doesn’t cover attorney fees, which led to the garnishment.

“This was one of the most bizarre things,” he said.

The garnishment, though, left the county in violation of state statutes which require a positive balance in all cash accounts.

“The county is in violation right now,” Branham said. “The money is gone from our account.”

Thomas said the City of Winchester was part of the suit as well and has agreed to pay its portion of the garnishment to the county.

The case is now back in Fayette Circuit Court, Thomas said.

The court voted 5-2 to approve a transfer of $8,132.23 to cover the garnishment. Magistrates Daniel Konstantopoulos and Pam Blackburn voted no.

In other action, the court:

— heard a presentation from Clark County Jailer Frank Doyle and Chief Deputy Justin Crockett about managing the jail’s finances for the remainder of the fiscal year. Crockett said they have already brought overtime costs down since the holidays and other standards and staff have been brought to basic levels. Crockett said the jail should be able to finish the fiscal year without the court having to transfer extra funds to the jail.

— approved a seven-year franchise agreement with Charter Communications for cable service to Clark County.

— approved the first reading of an ordinance to issue up to $10 million in health care revenue bonds for Kentucky Medical Services.

— approved zoning change for approximately 0.8 acres on Mount Sterling Road. Parts were changed from highway business to agricultural and others from agricultural to highway business.

— approved a resolution to protest the closing of the Kentucky Workforce Development office in Winchester.