Ethics Commission hears input on financial disclosure forums
Published 11:00 am Monday, December 18, 2023
By Lance Gaither
On Wednesday, the Boyle County Ethics Commission held a public forum to receive input on financial disclosure requirements for members of county boards, such as the Board of Health. The current financial disclosure forum requires extensive information regarding both the individual and their spouse and is a matter of public record. Information in the forum that must be disclosed includes sources of income, debts, investments and properties owned, among many other requirements. The current requirements have been in place since 1994. The full list of requirements can be found in the Boyle County Code of Ethics Section 21.
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“I met with the Board of Health earlier this year and we were talking about the financial disclosure forums. That created a dialogue, we followed up on that,” said Boyle County Ethics Board Chairperson Joe Myers. “It was presented to the fiscal court to ask for a moratorium to study this, We have delayed the financial disclosure forum because the fiscal court wants us to study this, get input, and making recommendations to them. If they change the code, we can change the forum. We are not going to ask something we are not authorized to ask for and we are not going to omit something we are required to ask.”
During the forum, speakers emphasized that board members are volunteers and that the requirements might intimidate them.
“If something on the forum is not correct the Ethics Board can require people to speak under oath and there could be misdemeanor charges,” said Public Health Director Brent Blevins. “When you are looking at a volunteer board member who has a forum with not only a lot of private information, but also it could get up to that, that’s a lot.”
Brenda Willoughby Brown, a member of the Birthplace of Kentucky Committee, said that the committee serves only in an advisory capacity and has no final authority.
“We have lost people because of this forum. It is hard to find a volunteer. There are several that wanted to be on the committee that didn’t because of this,” Brown said. “We have no procurement responsibility, we are advisors. I think most volunteers feel the way we do.”
The ethics commission is continuing to study the financial disclosure requirements and is continuing to seek public input on the issue.
“We want to make sure that whatever we do doesn’t inadvertently create problems,” Myers said. “It is a process we are in, and this an important part of it. We want to hear what people have to say.”
The Boyle County Ethics Commission’s next public meeting will be at 9 a.m. on Jan. 17 at the courthouse. Comments can also be submitted to the ethics commission via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.