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It seems as if secrecy is becoming the norm rather than the exception in our community's governmental affairs.
Campbellsville City Councilman David Nunery asked last week for a private meeting with Councilmembers and Fiscal Court magistrates to discuss the City and County's budget problems.
And, apparently, he got what he asked for.
Budget negotiations, however, are not one of the exceptions that the General Assembly has made to the laws that govern open meetings. City Attorney John Bertram said last week that the meeting could be considered a private discussion as long as there isn't a quorum of members attending. That would mean no more than six members of the City Council and three members of the Fiscal Court could attend. If a quorum of either group attended, Bertram said, they could possibly meet in closed session to discuss "possible litigation" or for "contract negotiation."
Even if there wasn't a quorum of either group, we believe such a meeting is abusing the intent of the Open Meetings Law.
According to Kentucky law, if a committee is established to consider items on behalf of a governmental agency, then those meetings are public and must follow the rules stated in the Kentucky Open Meetings law.
The very purpose of that law is to ensure that public business be discussed in public. We already know what the issue is. It sounds more like someone just wants to be able to argue in private rather than in front of the people who elected them.
We were told on Thursday that the secret meeting was, indeed, held on Wednesday, though no notice to the public or the press was ever given - also a violation of the Kentucky Open Meetings Law if a quorum is expected to attend.
Apparently, the law was circumvented by inviting just three magistrates and four Council members, in addition to Campbellsville Mayor Brenda Allen, City Attorney John Bertram and County Treasurer Melissa Williams. Judge/Executive Eddie Rogers - the County's highest elected official - was not invited to the meeting.
So there was half of the Court and a third of the Council represented at this meeting. What did they hope to accomplish, other than leaving the public and the rest of their fellow Councilmembers and magistrates out of the loop?
The possibility of paying more taxes - let alone the future of our Rescue and E-911 departments - affects us all. Why should we not be invited to hear the discussion?
We don't know what was said in that meeting ... we will never know now. Let's hope decisions aren't being made in private, especially when it's something that affects all of our pocketbooks and essential services like Rescue and E-911.