Kentucky law requires municipalities to follow certain procedures for purchases of goods or services over $20,000. They may:
- Piggy back on state purchase contracts;
- Adopt the Local Model Procurement Code (KRS 45A.343), or;
- Advertise for bids under KRS 424.260
In the Fall of 2015, West Buechel’s Mayor, Rick Richards purchased a new $25,000 vehicle for the West Buechel Police Department from and out of state dealership. The City of West Buechel has not adopted the Local Model Procurement Code and there was no advertisement for bids. To complicate matters, the City’s budget made no provision for the purchase of vehicles.
The direct legal penalties for violating KRS 424.260 appear to be nearly non-existent, even if significant off-budget spending might expose the Mayor to personal liability for making such a purchase without legal authorization. However, despite the number of times is has been repeated over the years, it never seems to sink in. “It’s not the crime. It’s the cover-up.”
(1) Mayor Rick Richards issued two consecutive checks, on the same date, for the purchase of this one vehicle. One check was for $19,500 and the second was for $9,500, for a total of $25,000.
(2) The check reports distributed to the West Buechel City Council omitted these two checks.
(3) The Annual Budget Report for FY 2015-2016 buried the vehicle purchase in the category “Maintenance & Repairs.”
Mayor Richards did not consult with the City Council regarding this expenditure, he did not ask for budget authorization and to this day the City Council has not been informed by the Mayor of the vehicle purchase. However, it appears that Mayor Richards and Clark-Treasurer Richards took pains to hide the purchase from the Council.
In addition to the purchase price of $25,000, there was also $4,230 expended to equip the vehicle for use as an unmarked police car. This combined $29,230 expense was off-budget and unauthorized by the City Council.
The documents we obtained through a January, 2016 Open Records request are included below.
There was a second vehicle purchased during this same time period. The circumstances seem to be the same but the specific details are still unknown.