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Commissioners debate salary increases for city, EDA director

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By Becky Barnes

In the early stages of the City of Cynthiana’s budget discussions, city clerk Charleen McIlvain was told to budget a cost of living raise for all city employees.

A cost of living raise will amount to an additional $82,608 for the next fiscal year. 

McIlvain was also asked to figure a 50-cent across the board raise. That would equal an additional $131,376 from the city coffers.

At a special meeting last week, commissioners suggested that the lower number be considered with the opportunity to raise that before the budgeting process was over.

However, in further budget discussions, the commissioners also considered a raise for the Economic Development Authority’s executive director, Darlene Bussell.

Bussell’s current base salary is $43,500. The EDA requested a 10 percent increase of her salary.

There was some discussion and ultimately a clarification needed for her perks, including $500 per month for mileage.

Commissioner Gary Brunker noted that he drove to Frankfort to work and was never compensated for mileage from home.

He said if the mileage stipend is for the director to show properties and meet with representatives of potential buyers, it would be understandable. However, he said mileage from home to work would not be.

Bussell also receives a 3 percent bonus for land sales at the Business Park as well a $100 per person in a job created by a new business.

“I think she deserves more,” said Mayor Steve Moses.

“How are we ... agreed she has done some stuff ... going to justify giving a county employee that much when we are giving our own employees 1.2 percent?” questioned Commissioner Roger Slade.

Commissioners agreed that Bussell has done well bringing in new business. However, Billy Grayson noted that the apparent hang up is the mileage.

Commissioners agreed to wait on EDA figures until a clarification can be made of the mileage stipend.

It was also noted that the county agreed to a $1,040 increase rather than the $2,175 requested from each of the city and county.

Prior to the budget portion of the meeting, the commissioners agreed to apply for a COPS grant that would increase the number of certified officers for Cynthiana.

Brunker said the 3-year grant, if approved, would pay 75 percent of officers’ salaries in newly created positions.

On the  fourth year, the city would be responsible for the salaries of the new officers.

Brunker said he was looking for an additional two officers above the 16 already approved.

He noted that there would be expenses to the city above the 25 percent match in salary. He said it takes about $4,100 to outfit an officer the first year. As well, there would be overtime, longevity pay, health insurance, retirement and workers’ comp insurance.

“It’s not cheap,” Brunker said. “We know the bypass will have an impact on city operations by the end of the year.”

Moses suggested the city approve the application and then consider its merits if and when the grant is awarded.

In another matter, the commission awarded the management audit and operational review of the Cynthiana Police Department to the University of Louisville’s Southern Police Institute. The cost will be $20,000.

 Brunker said the assessment will look at the city’s policy and procedures for the police department and see if those are being enforced. It will also look at hiring processes and conduct ride-a longs with each of the officers.