The Letcher County Fiscal Court acted quickly at its February meeting to rescind what had been reinstatement of a mileage expense that allowed each magistrate to claim up to $300.
The expense was reinstated by a 3-2 vote in January, and drew immediate and heavy criticism from members of the public who were upset that county officials would take care of themselves after they had just recently voted to shut down senior citizen centers and lay off a number county workers.
Among the first actions taken at Monday night’s meeting was a vote on a motion to rescind the expense account — one of two $300 accounts available to court members — introduced by District Four Magistrate Keith Adams. Adams is the magistrate who had proposed that the two mileage allowances, which totaled $600, be reinstated at the January meeting. Bobby Howard, who had seconded Adams’s motion to reinstate the accounts in January, also seconded the motion to rescind it. Howard said that during the 25 months he has served as a magistrate, he has only accepted $477 in reimbursements from the county for his mileage.
“Change of heart?” asked District Two Magistrate Terry Adams, who had made the original motion to do away with both expense accounts last November.
The vote to rescind was unanimous. District Five Magistrate Wayne Fleming, who along with Terry Adams voted against the January motion to reinstate the expense account, reminded the court that the other expense allowance they had agreed to suspend in their November 5 meeting was part of a state law that authorizes a flat $300 per month that reimburses magistrates for attending committee meetings. The court agreed that it had not been within its power to change that expense allowance, as state law says that it and magistrates’ salaries can only be altered every four years.
The original vote to do away with both expense accounts came after a heated exchange over cuts to the county budget at a meeting called on November 5 to discuss proposals from a committee formed to address budget issues. At that time, Terry Adams moved that the court do away with both expense accounts and in a five to one vote, the court supported his motion. At that time Keith Adams cast the lone no vote.