Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

July 24, 2013

Coroner’s funding requests dead on arrival

By Shayla Menville - Staff Writer
Journal-Times

July 24, 2013 — Members of Carter County Fiscal Court Tuesday told Coroner George Sparks they could not support his requests for additional funding.

Sparks had asked for the special work session after being told he would not be reimbursed for $4,000 worth of bills from the previous fiscal year.

Magistrate Clifford Roe was prompt to point out that the issue with the past bills was that they were late being turned in and that, in the future, reimbursements and purchase orders had to be filed at the beginning of each month to avoid future issues.

“Those bills have to come in on time so that we can pay them or reimburse them and because we need them for our audit,” said Roe. “As of right now, we can't give you more money because the fiscal budget has already been set for the upcoming year.”

“The bills are neglected, we don't always turn them in, in a timely fashion and I'll be the first to admit that and will do a better job in the future to make sure they are submitted correctly,” said Sparks. “However, I've never been notified of when the budget committee is convening and I plan to lobby for more money in the future.”

Judge-Executive Charles Wallace reiterated the sentiment that nothing would change for Sparks’ current budget but that the $4,000 in prior expenses could be paid.

“We can go ahead and get you paid for those back issues,” said Wallace. “Get your bills in order and turned in and it will be taken care of.”

Sparks explained that his office handles 50 to 60 death cases a year and at least 20 of those require transport to Frankfort for further examination.

“Sparks Funeral Home has furnished a vehicle since I've been in office and you have to look at the budget and find a way to factor in a vehicle for county response,” said Sparks. “I have talked to the ambulance service as suggested and they did not have anything serviceable, all we would need is a cargo van.”

“We have to look for something economical on fuel,” said Roe.

Later in the meeting Sparks asked if there was anything he could do to help with a vehicle search.

“We can all search around and there may be something in state surplus,” Wallace responded.

Insurance on the vehicle was discussed briefly but Wallace told Sparks he was covered by the Kentucky Association of Counties (KACO) insurance, just like every other elected official, regardless of which vehicle he was driving doing the county’s business.

“How do you suggest that I handle office expenses because currently my private business offsets all of the bills and supplies used regarding county investigations,” asked Sparks.

He was advised to see how other county coroners handled that specific situation and bring it back to the Court.

Sparks appealed to the court that they could be paying him and his two deputy coroners an extra $300 per month because, while it was not necessary, they were up to date on all education classes issued through Frankfort.

“You would need itemized statements to be reimbursed for anything,” said Wallace, reminding Sparks that those must be submitted at the beginning of each month.

While most of Sparks concerns and issues were not given answers, he stayed positive.

“Well, I guess we will meet in March or April of next year when you are planning the budget and see if we can reach a compromise on what can be done regarding all of the expenses,” said Sparks. “I just want to clarify that I'm very clear on my responsibilities as coroner and want to make sure that everyone else is clear. Ultimately, I want what is best for the county.”

Sparks is serving his fourth term as coroner.

Shayla Menville can be reached at smenville@themoreheadnews.com or by telephone at 784-4116.