Parks & Rec won’t cash refund from city commissioner

Published 12:52 pm Saturday, February 24, 2018

Danville-Boyle County Parks and Recreation does not currently plan on cashing a check for almost $2,300 from a sitting Danville City Commissioner.

The check for $2,298.31 was given to the Parks & Rec board by Commissioner Rick Serres on Wednesday. It was intended to refund Parks & Rec for a portion of the money it paid Serres’ company to install security cameras at Millennium Park.

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Serres gave Parks & Rec the check in an effort to resolve a disagreement over whether Danville should pay its portion of a bill from Serres’ company, Bluegrass IT.

Parks & Rec Director John Drake said Thursday that Parks & Rec Chair Roger Ross had been advised not to cash Serres’ check. Ross was not available for comment Thursday or Friday.

Drake said Parks & Rec is not sure it can legally accept the check; it’s possible the agency will need to hire an attorney to advise it on the situation — Parks & Rec does not currently retain a lawyer.

City Manager Ron Scott said he thought the effort to return the money, or a portion of the money, is a way to fix the issue.

Having the work donated, Scott said, would not be a problem, but having Serres hired to do the work is the problem.

“It’s a little puzzling to me why they wouldn’t accept the money back,” Scott said. “(Serres) said, ‘Here’s restitution in cash for most of it and the rest in in-kind labor.’ It’s a corrective action.”

Bluegrass IT was paid $7,600 for upgrading the Millennium Park security cameras. Since the expenditure was planned through the joint city-county ad hoc Parks & Rec committee, the cost theoretically should have been split evenly — $3,800 each — between Boyle County Fiscal Court and Danville City Commission.

Boyle County paid its $3,800 bill, but Danville City Manager Ron Scott never offered the bill to Danville City Commission for approval — Scott has said the bill raised ethical concerns since Serres serves on the city commission.

Instead, Parks & Rec wound up paying the other $3,800 out of its own funds, though that cost is not in its current budget.

On Wednesday, Serres offered Parks & Rec a check for $2,298.31 and work vouchers equal to $1,501.69, the remainder of the $3,800 amount.

Serres said Friday the vouchers could be used to pay his company for additional work on the security camera project or turned into cash.

“They’ll be able to cash (the vouchers) in after we’re free and clear. We can pay them,” Serres said. “There may be some things outside the scope of the project that need to be cleaned up before they find a vendor … If they can’t call us back to do work, that’s a problem.”

Serres said if there was any additional work to do beyond the original $7,800 scope and his company isn’t allowed to do the work, Parks & Rec would likely have to go to Louisville to find another company that can work with the Panasonic equipment used in the park.

Bluegrass IT Services is a division of Bluegrass Biomedical, the business owned by Serres. The company had been doing IT-related work at the park since about 2014, prior to Serres becoming a city commissioner.

After concerns from City Manager Scott were raised about the situation, work on the project was stopped just before completion. A single security camera had been installed but not hooked into the system.

Drake said that last camera is expected to be hooked up this weekend.

“I don’t think we went into it with the intention of making money, we thought it was a continuing project and it took a turn on us,” Serres said. “We didn’t know — maybe we should have known, but it appeared to us as if everything was OK.”

Drake said Bluegrass IT had been Parks & Rec’s vendor for all computer-related issues for several years; he was unsure if Parks & Rec now has to stop using the company completely.

“It’s such a tool … That’s what’s been missing from this conversation,” he said. “To have someone readily available. It’s been such a tool.”

He said he hasn’t checked with any other security companies in the area to see if they can work on the system now installed at the park.

The way things stand now, Boyle County Fiscal Court has paid $3,800 for a Parks & Rec capital project that Danville City Commission has not contributed to in equal amount.

Boyle County Treasurer Mary Conley said the issue will be addressed at the next fiscal court meeting on Tuesday. She said she’s not sure how it will play out — the county is not allowed to accept donations for work.

“How does the city accept donated services for their side of things? We’re doing this in good faith, now we’re a little out of balance,” Conley said. “The question is, how does the fiscal court want to handle it?”