The board of the Lexington Center Corp. adopted new policies concerning whistle blowers and conflicts of interest on Thursday after an examination of whether it was operating in line with the recommendations of State Auditor Crit Luallen.
The immediate impetus for the Lexington Center review was a request from Mayor Jim Newberry to agencies that report to the city. The Lexington Center manages Rupp Arena, Lexington Convention Center and the Lexington Opera House.
"The mayor sent us a letter and asked, specifically, if we were in compliance or not with Crit Luallen's recommendations. And if we weren't, what we were going to do about it?" said Cecil Dunn, the Lexington Center's board chairman.
Luallen has received dozens of questions since she released a list of 28 recommendations in mid-May to help public and non-profit boards establish financial oversight and internal controls.
"We constantly have had people calling with questions, e-mailing, asking where they can get copies of the recommendations, pretty much from all over the state," said Terry Sebastian, spokesman for Luallen.
Last week, Luallen spoke to representatives of non-profit boards in Harrison County. And the Scott County Chamber of Commerce has asked her to speak at one of their upcoming meetings.
The recommendations from her office were a result of questions from boards and state officials after her office's audit of Blue Grass Airport and Herald-Leader stories about the airport and the Lexington Public Library.
Bill Owen, president and CEO of the Lexington Center, said the stories "raised a level of awareness" among his board members.
"There were six of the 28 recommendations where the committee felt like we should approach the full board for further discussion on how to better comply," Owen said.
The center's previous open-door policy encouraged employees to share concerns or complaints with "anyone who could address them." Most times that was the person's supervisor, Owen said.
The new whistle blower policy encourages employees to speak with anyone in management they are comfortable with, including Owen.
In the past, Lexington Center board members who felt they had a conflict of interest recused themselves from voting on an issue. Now, they will be required to fill out an annual form about their conflicts, Dunn said, as well as to recuse themselves.
The Lexington Center will continue to work on other recommendations, such as having an internal auditor on staff and addressing policies on gifts, employee benefits and staff salaries.