The Kentucky League of Cities executive board will open its Friday meeting to the media as it discusses possible policy changes after stories appeared in the Herald-Leader on the salaries and expenses of League executives.
League officials said they are not subject to the state open meetings law, but the executive board members voted in a teleconference on Monday to grant the Herald-Leader's request to attend.
Jackson Mayor Michael Miller, the board's vice president, said he does not think the board is subject to holding meetings that are open to the public, but he said he did not mind issuing the invitation.
"I hope that we make plans to address some issues over the next few months, and we can get back to doing what the League does so well," he said.
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The League is a non-profit membership organization that provides insurance and financing services to cities.
Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry, an executive board member, urged the board to look at its policies after he saw documents provided to the Herald-Leader under an open records request. KLC executive director Sylvia Lovely gave Newberry and other mayors the documents after they were requested by the newspaper.
"Personally, I thought it made sense to allow the media and the public to hear firsthand how KLC intends to address the issues which have been raised," Newberry said. "I hope the board will address the issues I raised in my May letter."
Specifically, Newberry asked that the League reassess salaries, stop paying for travel by the spouses of top officials, and buy more economical vehicles. In 2008, Lovely had a compensation package of more than $315,000 and is provided with a BMW sports-utility vehicle by the League. In the past three years, the top three executives spent more than $300,000 on meals, travel and other expenses.
In a May 27 letter to board chairwoman Connie Lawson, the mayor of Richmond, Newberry also advised that the board adopt a series of recommendations for public boards from State Auditor Crit Luallen. The recommendations, which address board responsibilities such as overseeing expenses, were written in the wake of the airport scandal, in which executives spent more than $500,000, much of it on questionable expenses.
Luallen also has written to Lawson about the recommendations. Luallen has said she will wait to see what action the board takes on Friday before her office will look into the League.
"Because the League is an association of government entities that is governed by a board of elected officials, it's critical that the League's expenditures be transparent, reasonable in nature, and be tied to quantifiable benefits to the public," Luallen wrote. "I believe the taxpayers of Kentucky deserve no less."
The League is subject to the state's Open Records Act because it receives more than 25 percent of its revenues from public sources.