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Ellis: KLC board was asleep at the wheel

December 18, 2009

Reporter Ronnie Ellis with CNHI News Service notes in his weekly column today that the blame for the culture of excessive spending at the Kentucky League of Cities falls on more than just those doing the spending.

Ellis has some questions for those on the KLC board, along with those other board overseeing groups that have recently been exposed for their exorbitant and profligate spending, including the Kentucky Association of Counties.

From Ellis’s column

Where have board members been and what were they thinking? Why don’t people on important boards with significant financial responsibility ask the chief executive or school superintendent hard, probing questions?

State Auditor Crit Luallen laid the blame on the backs of the board members to some extent in her audit of KLC, with the first finding directed at the KLC board.

From the audit report

Finding 1: The KLC Executive Board did not provide effective leadership and governance over its financial resources to the ultimate benefit of its member cities.

That should be the primary conclusion of the audit itself – that the board at KLC, and the boards at other groups that have mismanaged public dollars, have shirked the responsibility they accepted by becoming a board member.

Ellis doesn’t let them off the hook, either.

From his column –

Yes, they’re busy people. Yes, KLC has grown dramatically and generates most of its revenue not from city dues but from its insurance business. Clearly they were – and some remain – impressed with the staff’s management of that growth. But, as Luallen said, surely in times of recession when public anger about government is on display everywhere those mayors and city managers should have taken their oversight responsibilities more seriously.

These tales of squandered public dollars should hit home and affect real changes among members of the KLC and KACo boards, given that they are all members of local governments that are no doubt struggling to make ends meet.

But that remains to be seen. As Linda Blackford with the Herald-Leader, which has exposed much of these free-spending ways, noted in her article today

On Thursday, a devastating state audit detailed a culture of excessive and wasteful spending at the Kentucky League of Cities.

On Friday, the group is holding its annual Christmas party at the Mansion at Griffin Gate, complete with a reception, dancing and karaoke. The party’s budget is almost $10,000.

So much for lessons learned.

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