April 24, 2013 — Olive Hill Mayor Kenny Fankell vetoed an ordinance Monday that would have stripped City Clerk Cheri James of her utility office and supervisory duties, as well as her responsibilities as city treasurer.
“On the advice of the city’s legal counsel, I’ve decided to veto this ordinance to avoid potential legal liability,” Fankell said when asked why he struck down the measure.
James declined comment. She has held the dual positions for several years.
City Attorney George Hogg provided Fankell with written advice earlier Monday on why he believes the ordinance is invalid.
According to Hogg, the first reading of the ordinance was conducted incorrectly because it was held during a special meeting of City Council and the agenda item pertaining to that action was not specific enough to comply with the Open Meetings Act.
Hogg also stated that a “designation of purpose” must be delivered in person, by mail, or by fax to each Council member when a special meeting is called and that he was unsure if Council member Tony Williams had been informed of the proceedings.
Williams, who was appointed to replace Fankell on Council, has yet to attend a Council meeting.
The language in the ordinance also is called into question in Hogg’s letter.
It is his opinion that the new ordinance is an attempt to amend a previous ordinance (2000-12) but does not comply with state requirements under KRS 83A.060 for amending ordinances.
The second reading of the ordinance in question passed 3-2 margin at last Tuesday’s regular meeting.
With Fankell’s veto, however, the measure cannot be enacted into law unless the veto is overturned on the affirmative votes of at least five Council members.
Council members Angie Johnson Fultz and Allen Stapleton, along with Fankell, also expressed reservations about the ordinance, warning that such a measure could disrupt city operations.
Fankell clarified his stance Monday, stating that because Assistant City Clerk Angela Owens is not a signatory on the city’s checking accounts at First National Bank, any action relieving James of her treasurer duties would result in an inability to write checks from those accounts which require two signatures.
Fankell then would be the only designated signatory.
Council member Glenn Meade, who introduced the ordinance, offered his response to Fankell’s veto.
"After speaking with the Kentucky Department for Local Government and the Kentucky League of Cities, I find the stated legal basis for the veto to be questionable.”
“However, the Council will address this issue and will keep submitting an ordinance redefining and separating the duties of clerk and treasurer,” he said. “We will see that the people’s business gets done."
Joe Lewis can be reached at email@example.com or by telephone at 286-4201.