Play by the rules or don’t play at all

Published 6:46 pm Thursday, March 14, 2019


Contributing columnist

The City of Danville City Commission and Boyle County Fiscal Court are letting us down. Why can’t these two governing bodies get it together and solve the parks and recreation conflict once and for all?

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Egos. It’s egos.

City Manager Ron Scott laid out a lot of what I had planned to say in his March 8 editorial. Here are a few highlights: The city paid for a consultant to help develop a master plan for ALL of the parks. This means the parks inside the city plus Millennium Park. The county was asked to participate in developing this plan, but they opted out. The consultant recommended that management of the parks fall under one governing body without a managing board of directors. The group would function in an advisory capacity focused on programming.

The city and county have an ordinance that established the Parks & Rec board. The original ordinance (Number 1425) lays out how the Parks & Rec board should function within the oversight of the city commission and the fiscal court. The original ordinance was enacted in 1990, then later amended in 1998 to add two additional seats on the board for a total of seven.

Section 2 of the ordinance states that the board will consist of seven appointed members “experienced in or knowledgeable about public recreation.” Three board members are to be appointed by the county judge-executive and be residents of the county; three additional board members are to be appointed by the city mayor with commission approval and live within the city limits. The final board member would be a joint appointee by the judge-executive and the mayor.

The fiscal court and city commission just approved two new members to the board. If I read the news account correctly, the fiscal court appointee lives within the city limits. Magistrate Jamey Gay questioned this but fellow magistrate Phil Sammons apparently didn’t like the question and pushed for the appointee to be confirmed, which he was.

An additional point in the ordinance states that the Parks & Rec board “shall employ and retain an attorney.” This is the last sentence in Section 5. I don’t recall ever reading a quote from the Parks & Rec board attorney. If they have one, it must be the least verbal lawyer in the history of lawyering.

Section 6 is the one with which I am most concerned. It states that the board “shall submit an itemized budget of proposed receipts and expenditures” to the fiscal court and the city commission “for their approval before the first day of February of each year” so each governing body can approve appropriation related to the governing body’s anticipated budget.

It also states that a joint meeting of the city commission and fiscal court “shall occur annually prior to the appropriation of funds by each body to approve the agreed level of funding for the board.”

I’m fairly certain none of this has occurred in many, many years. Raise your hand if you remember a joint city commission-fiscal court meeting. Can you imagine how long the negotiation would be over where to meet?

Finally, the proposed budget is required to be accompanied by “an audit performed by a certified public accountant for the most recently completed fiscal year.” I would LOVE to see an audit of the Parks & Rec board.

They are spending my money. It comes out of all of my paychecks. And your paychecks.

I am tired of the fragile egos of those responsible for maintaining our parks and recreation programs. The fiscal court seems intransigent on its stance. They want what they want, period.

Maybe it’s time to revisit the 1998 ordinance. Either abide by the agreement or toss it and go with the highly paid consultant’s recommendation of Parks & Rec being under one governmental agency.

Since the board does not oversee the parks inside the city limits (through some bizarre agreement) and the city pays more than its fair share of maintenance for Millennium Park, maybe it’s time for the city to take over and let the fiscal court oversee a park-free county.

G. Elaine Wilson-Reddy, JD, is a professional educator, consultant and advocate. She lives in Danville.