FISCAL COURT DEADLOCKED: Could not agree to rehire county road, recycling employees

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SALYERSVILLE - The Magoffin County Fiscal Court met for the first time this year in a special-called meeting Monday, with the Court deadlocked on the rehiring of county employees.

The Court met on January 5 with an agenda to appoint the judge’s staff, county administration staff, hire county employees, discuss employee garbage bills and set the monthly meeting dates for the year.

Magoffin County Judge Executive Dr. Charles Hardin proposed to keep his staff at the same pay rates as the previous year and a $5,000 increase to all county administrative staff except the emergency management director, which is to get a $500 increase from last year. The increases were anticipated and planned into the current working budget. The Court approved those proposals.

Hardin proposed to not fill the deputy judge and administrative assistant positions within his office at this time, appointing Treva Howard to fill the secretary and assistant finance officer positions and Mike Wilson as the emergency management director.

Within the county administrative staff positions, Kila Keeton was reappointed as treasurer, Frankie Collett as solid waste coordinator, and Susie Salyer as the community center director, occupational tax administrator and finance officer. Salyer has agreed to hold the three positions for an additional $2,500 to her salary, saving the county roughly $32,000 by combining the positions, Hardin said. The Court unanimously approved the proposed appointments.

Hardin made a motion to hire a list of employees full-time to the county road and recycling departments. Hardin told the magistrates that three employees would not be rehired by his motion, stating one wasn’t sure he wanted to come back and the others did something he did not agree with. 

By law, all positions were terminated as of midnight, Sunday, excluding the treasurer, which is extended six months, and county road foreman, extended two weeks. The new administration is responsible for establishing the county positions after the clock runs out on the former administration. 

New Magistrate Matthew Wireman stated that through reviewing a manual from the Department of Local Government, the law is clear that ordinary county employees cannot be terminated based on political activities, that such action would violate those employees constitutional rights. Wireman asked Hardin if he was choosing to not nominate those three employees due to budget issues, which Hardin said “no.” 

Wireman said, I’m new to this and there’s a lot to be learned, but I think this is exposing ourselves to liabilities and we can be sued individually and I’m not for that.”

Magistrate Gary “Rooster” Risner and Hardin voted for the rehiring of the county road and recycling employees, with Wireman and Magistrate Pernell “Buck” Lemaster voting against the motion. Lemaster stated that he wants to hire everyone back. With the tie vote, none of the county road and recycling workers were rehired at this time.

By Kentucky law, when a tie vote occurs in these instances, the Court has 15 days to work out their differences. If after the 15 days an agreement cannot be made, the judge executive has the authority to break the tie. 

Hardin did discuss with the Court that he had been previously informed that the two-week gap of employment to these workers could result in a break in their insurance coverage, which could penalize employees with “pre-existing conditions.” They held another roll call vote, with no change from the previous vote. 

Lemaster said, “Two of these guys have been here longer than I have and I think they’ve put their time in.”

Afterward, the Court did agree to hire five seasonal employees, 911 employees, community center and janitorial staff, with no significant changes. 

Hardin told WYMT that if a bad snow comes, he will issue an emergency order to hire workers back, however, for the next two weeks no one will be out clearing the roads or fixing problems for the county.