OWENSBORO — Mayor Ron Payne will recommend Tuesday to the Owensboro City Commission that the city stop paying dues to the Kentucky League of Cities and look for insurance carriers other than the League for the city's property and liability insurance.
"I'm concerned about a lot of the things I'm reading about the Kentucky League of Cities," Payne said Monday. "The Kentucky League of Cities should set the example for accountability and transparency."
Owensboro pays about $14,000 a year in Kentucky League of Cities dues and $7,600 for training. The city's current annual premium for League-supplied insurance is almost $590,000. The city purchases property and liability insurance through a competitive bid process. The city's current policies expire in August.
The city's 2008-09 payments to the League for insurance are: $211,956 for auto and vehicle insurance; $11,894 for equipment insurance; $96,880 for property insurance; $117,835 for general liability insurance; $68,964 for law enforcement insurance; and $81,646 for public officials' insurance.
The Kentucky League of Cities has fallen under scrutiny following a series of articles published by the Lexington Herald-Leader that exposed high salaries and expensive perks for top League employees and hundreds of thousands of dollars in questionable expense account spending.
Sylvia Lovely, the League's executive director, has seen her salary grow by 25.5 percent since 2006 to $315,000 a year and had the use of a BMW SUV, according to records obtained by the newspaper. At the same time, the top three League executives charged more than $300,000 for travel, meals and other expenses since 2006. In 2008, travel by all League employees cost about $457,000.
Just days ago, Kentucky State Auditor Crit Luallen's office announced that the League and the Kentucky Association of Counties will be audited.
The League has taken several actions in response to the criticism, but Payne said the league has not done enough.
"With an audit under way, we'll take action pending the outcome of that audit," Payne said.
Chief among his concerns, Payne said, is the apparent lack of knowledge by the League's board of staff salaries and spending.
"There needs to be some policy changes made," he said. "I'm anxious to see what comes out of the audit."
The Owensboro City Commission is scheduled to meet at 5 p.m. CDT today at City Hall.