West Buechel’s $10,000 Gate to Nowhere

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Without any formal approval from the City Council, Mayor Richards took it upon himself to fence in the West Buechel Community Center at an unknown total cost to the City. The electric keypad operated gate you can see in the photo on the right, with an electro-magnetic lock, easily cost the taxpayers more than $10,000 by itself.

The only thing this new fence and electric gate accomplishes is to keep cars out of the Community Center parking lot after hours and on weekends. It doesn’t keep people out.

The reasons for this boondoggle have never been explained to the public, or even discussed at any public meeting.  The City Council members have never gone on the record to indicate if they approve or disapprove this type of wasteful spending of taxpayer’s money. It makes the Community Center look like a FEMA internment camp. Gulag West Buechel.

In the past, the West Buechel City Council has approved annual City budgets that allocate hundreds of thousands of dollars in vague undefined “slush fund” categories and, like Pontius Pilate, washed their hands of it and pretended not to notice how the money was being spent. Only a few brave souls on the West Buechel City Council are willing to make a fuss.

The City’s slipshod budget process needs reform, the Mayor’s out of control spending needs to be reined in , and strict budget discipline should be enforced. West Buechel City Hall must answer to the people of West Buechel and the City Council must do its job. Somebody needs to raise a ruckus.

West Buechel: Grounds to remove a Mayor

IMG_0034-crop-GS-250pxWest Buechel’s Mayor, Rick Richards, may be removed from office by the City Council for “misconduct, incapacity, or willful neglect in the performance of the duties of his office,” upon a unanimous City Council vote. Council member Toby Clark and three other Council members  plan to proceed with the removal effort for the following five reasons:

1. Failure to account for public funds.

Bank records show the City had beginning account balances totaling $1,858,014 on July 1, 2015 and an ending balance of $1,0005,623 on June 30, 2016, for a deficit of $852,391. However, Mayor Richards FY 2015-16 Budget Report shows receipts of $1,628,362 and spending of $2,270,915, for that same period, with a deficit of only $642,553. The disparity between the bank records and Mayor Richards reports leaves $209,838 unaccounted for. Council member Clark pointed this out at the September City Council meeting, with Mayor Richards present, and there have been no clarifications or explanations offered.

2. Failure to produce an audit for FY 2014-2015.

The City is required to have its financial statements audited by independent CPAs or the State Auditor every year. The final audit report must be completed and presented to the City Council by February 1 of the following year, and published. The independent audit report for FY 2014-2015 was due February  1, 2016, eight months ago, but the audit process has not yet been started. By all reports, the Richards administration has not produced any financial statements for any CPA to audit, nor has Richards contracted with any CPA firm to do the job. These failures are subject matter in a lawsuit pending in Jefferson Circuit Court against Mayor Rick Richards and the City Clerk-Treasurer, Kim Richards, personally. That action was filed in March, 2016.

3. Over-budget spending.

Mayor Richards own annual Budget Report for FY 2015-16 shows over spending of $134,000 in Administrative, $194,000 in the Police Department and $63,000 in Code Enforcement. That is $391,000 over the combined $1,428,000 budgeted by the City Council for those three departments. Mayor Richards went 27.5% over budget in these areas and he never sought or obtained Council approval for this excess spending. There are some good reasons to suspect Mayor Richards’ annual budget report understated the amounts actually expended.  See item 1, above.

4. Unauthorized employee payroll.

Pay for City employees is set by Ordinance approved by the City Council. Richards has given extravagant pay raises to various City employees, including the friends he has hired, in excess of the existing employee pay scale. City payroll expenses have roughly doubled from January, 2015 to August, 2016.

5. Accepting additional unauthorized pay.

West Buechel’s Mayor is paid once a month, as established by City Ordinance. In January, 2015, Mayor Richards received two paychecks, for a total of thirteen paydays to him from the tax payers for calendar year 2015.

West Buechel – Majority of Council asks for Mayor’s removal

West Buechel, Ky. –  October 10, 2016

A dramatic turn in this troubled little town came today when four City Council members filed notice of a Special Council meeting for October 25, 2016, to conduct a public hearing to remove Mayor Rick Richards from office.  In general,  Mayor Richards has been charged with neglect of duty and other misconduct. Richards will be given a list of specific charges so that he may prepare to defend himself at the public hearing.

The four Council members, Toby Clark, Clara Crawford, Loy Crawford and Joseph Mattingly, have long been dissatisfied with Richards’ management, hiring and firing practices, unauthorized employee pay, secrecy and over budget spending. The two other City Council members, Elizabeth Bierbaum and Janie Mosely, have been strong supporters of Mayor Richards in the past.

A City Council can remove a sitting Mayor only with a unanimous vote.

The regular monthly West Buechel City Council is tomorrow night, Tuesday, October 11at 6 PM.