Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

October 24, 2012

Tension between Olive Hill police and City Hall

By Joe Lewis - Staff Writer
Journal-Times

Oct. 24, 2012 — Olive Hill City Council held a special meeting Monday to conduct the second reading of a pay raise ordinance for the city police force.

Mayor Danny Sparks immediately raised concerns regarding whether or not the Carter County Board of Education would approve a pay boost for the school resource officer (SRO) position at West Carter High School which, according to City Clerk Cheri James, would amount to approximately $300 per month.

“If we approve this $300 a month pay raise and they decide not to cover it, we will have to lay off someone,” Sparks said.

The school board currently pays the SRO’s salary for nine months out of the year, while the city picks up the other three months.

Overtime was another hot button topic with Sparks and Council member Linda Lowe again addressing their concerns that overtime expenses incurred after this pay increase would likely push police expenditures over budget for the year.

Police Sgt. Bruce Palmer again rebutted these concerns with his own concern that FADE reimbursement funds and House Bill 413 proceeds have not been properly allocated to the police department’s budget.

Palmer contends that between the House Bill 413 funds and the 10 percent salary reimbursement the city receives for its FADE officer, monies should be available if overtime needs to be paid.

Palmer also stated that overtime shouldn’t be as much of an issue now that the force is adequately staffed.

Contentious discussion also took place regarding the pay scale of the FADE officer.

Sparks asserted that Police Chief Bobby Hall informed him of an existing rule that states an officer can not hold a sergeant’s rank and still participate in FADE.

The most heated part of the discussion centered on whether or not this alleged “rule” was being used as a guise to demote the FADE officer to a lower pay grade.

Hall was not at the meeting to verify those comments, but later told the Journal-Times that the FADE officer became a detective when he began working with the organization. Hall said he had advized Sparks that a detective pay grade needed to be created for the officer.

Palmer refuted the mayor's remarks at the meeting, however, with information he received from the FADE director denying the existence of such a rule.

Citing the need to have assurances from both the Board of Education and the FADE director in writing, Sparks recommended that the Council table the second reading of the ordinance until those documents could be obtained.

Council member Lowe then moved to the table the ordinance but the motion died without a second.

On the advice of City Attorney George Hogg, Council then proceeded with the second reading of the ordinance, which was approved by a vote of 5-0 with Lowe abstaining.

In other business, Council approved the first reading of an annexation ordinance to incorporate a small stretch of property between West Carter Middle School and West Carter High School.

Council also approved the first reading of a new property tax ordinance that provides for a four percent increase.

A public hearing for citizens to ask questions about the new tax rate is scheduled at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 5, at the senior citizens center.

Joe Lewis can be reached at jlewis@journal-times.com or by telephone at 286-4201.