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Council members question city’s spending

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By Laura Hagan

Two payments to home-shopping giant QVC and several lunches on the city’s dime leave some council members questioning the best use of La Grange taxpayers’ money.

Council members say they’d like a better explanation of the city’s bills than the mayor’s office currently provides, but Mayor Elsie Carter said it would require a lot of extra paperwork and maybe even additional staff or staff time to provide that to the council. Melanie Woosley, one of three newly-elected members of the council, said everything wouldn’t need to be copied, but that it would be helpful to have a more detailed explanation. “If it takes paper, it takes paper,” Woosley said, “we just want to know what it is.” Woosley said she thinks it would be beneficial to include the information in the members’ monthly packets, rather than requiring Open Records requests to see the receipts. In Woosley’s process of requesting receipts, she said, she also ran across some things she said, “don’t fit,” including payment for flowers and food for funerals – expenditures the Kentucky League of Cities doesn’t allow unless the city collects donations or does it for anyone else in the city. “It’s something you can take a collection for and send under the city’s name,” she said, “but taxpayers’ money can’t go to things of that nature.” Carter said a discretionary fund is built into the city’s budget and it is what allowed her to spend the money for flowers for a funeral – in this case the funeral of Ricky Rahm, former La Grange Public Works Director. “If you all felt like I shouldn’t have (spent the money), I’m sorry,” Carter said. “I take full responsibility for that.” Woosley said she appreciated that, but said if the money is spent for one person it will have to be spent for more, even if it is a discretionary fund. She also said she noticed lots of meetings had taken place outside of city hall, after she saw receipts for lunches. She said she thinks if there are meetings taking place, they should be in City Hall. “We don’t need to be buying lunch for everybody,” she said. “If you’re going to be spending taxpayers’ money, (maybe) some minutes could be brought back that showed business was discussed.” Council member Jean Knight said one reason council members are interested to see how city money is spent stems from two payments made to QVC. She said they just want explanations of purchases. Council member Jason Taylor seconded Woosley’s motion concerning the city bills and it passed unanimously.   E-mail us about this story at: lhagan@oldhamera.com