Court again delays action on contractor bills

Ralph B. Davis rdavis@civitasmedia.com

December 30, 2013

PRESTONSBURG — The Floyd County Fiscal Court has again delayed making a decision on whether or not to pay a contractor who has submitted bills dating back to 2010, saying they need to seek guidance from the state about how to proceed.

Harpo Castle was again on hand Monday for a special meeting of the Floyd County Fiscal Court, during which magistrates considered $165,000 in bills Castle says he submitted for C&C Construction, but which he says he was told later were lost.

Castle has previously said he has about $850,000 in additional bills which have not yet been submitted to the court.

However, District 2 Magistrate Hattie Owens suggested that the court not take any action on the bills, saying she thought the county should obtain an opinion from the state Department for Local Government on “if it is legal to pay these bills.” Magistrate John Goble made a motion to that effect, and the court voted unanimously to table the matter.

At issue is the fact that none of the bills include a purchase order number. In November, the fiscal court was taken to task by an independent auditor for not following purchase order procedures by paying invoices whether they included purchase order numbers or not. At that meeting, the auditor said he could not see any justification for magistrates to vote to pay any bill that did not include a purchase order number.

After the meeting, Castle said he would wait to see what action the court ultimately takes before deciding what to do next.

The discussion also reopened a rift between County Judge-Executive R.D. “Doc” Marshall and County Attorney Keith Bartley. Bartley used the occasion to again blame Marshall for ordering C&C to do work, “knowing we didn’t have the money to pay for it at the time.”

“My opinion on that is that it’s not appropriate,” Bartley said. “It’s like spending money you ain’t got. It’s like running up the credit card bill, knowing you can’t pay it when the bill comes.”

Marshall, however, said all of the work was work in urgent need of being done.

“These projects were needed …” Marshall said. “Buses couldn’t run on some of these roads, to pick schoolchildren up. Roads in several areas were impassable. The roads had fallen completely away.”

Bartley said that was not the point.

“I’m not saying the work wasn’t needed,” Bartley said. “I don’t know. I wasn’t there. But even if you needed the work, if you don’t have the money to pay for the service, then you don’t do it.”

Castle questioned Bartley from the audience, asking if Marshall had the authority to conduct the day-to-day operations of the county.

“He does, and he has the obligation not to spend money we don’t have,” Bartley answered. “And he has the obligation to see that we have a balanced budget and that we live within that budget.”