Urban County Council members are interested in creating an oath that city board and commission members must sign when they agree to serve.
The purpose of the oath would be to remind the board and commission members of their responsibilities and duties, said Councilman Julian Beard, who suggested the idea in response to the expense scandal at Blue Grass Airport. “It’s not a magic bullet by any means. It’s a step. It sensitizes the various and sundry directors to their responsibilities and duties. I can’t see how that can harm anything at all.”
A lack of adequate controls and lax monitoring of expenses by airport board members created an environment in which there was “little risk of detection” for improper spending of more than $500,000 in three years, state auditor Crit Luallen said in an audit released two weeks ago.
Beard isn’t the only council member interested in developing a more stringent policy for boards and commissions.
Councilman George Myers has approached the law department about developing a code of conduct and requiring training, said Logan Askew, the city’s law commissioner.
The law department is preparing a memo about oaths, codes of conduct, training and what state law allows, Askew said. “When it comes to boards and commissions, state law has specific requirements about how people are appointed. We are very limited in what we can do, but I’ll explain it in the memo.”
Beard and Councilwoman Cheryl Feigel will work on crafting an oath that would apply to city boards and commissions.
The oath will make a statement that serving on a board and commission is “serious business,” Feigel said. “This is more to help them understand the role of the job that they are accepting and how seriously we take that role and to be sure that they completely understand … that there are laws and policies that have to be adhered to and that they know what those are.”
The idea for an oath came from Beard’s career as a banker, he said.
Bank directors are required to sign an oath that talks about doing business ethically and following the law, he said. “It is not a huge burden. This whole process takes 15 seconds to administer the oath and people line up to sign the paper and it’s done.”
Beard said he wasn’t sure if the oath should be applied to all of the city’s boards and commissions or just the quasi-governmental groups, such as LexTran, the Lexington Center Corp., the housing authority, the board of health, the parking authority, the downtown development authority and the library board.
“If someone’s not willing to sign the oath, as far as I’m concerned anyway, they don’t need to be a director,” Beard said.
Once the oath has been crafted, the council’s intergovernmental committee will review the oath and discuss if it should apply to all boards and commissions or just the quasi-governmental groups.
– Michelle Ku