Fayette County

Council tables commissioner's pay raise, records request from airport

Instead of approving or denying a proposed 12.7 percent salary increase for a city commissioner, the Urban County Council punted Thursday night.

The council unanimously tabled the issue of whether Kyna Koch, the finance and administration commissioner, should get a pay raise from $110,947 to $125,000.

Councilman Kevin Stinnett asked the council to table the issue until seeing additional budget information.

"During the budget process, we may have to do salary cuts, so we may pass something tonight that we have to come back and cut later," said Stinnett, a supporter of the raise.

Mayor Jim Newberry said he was disappointed the council decided to table the pay raise instead of approving it.

Koch is deserving of the raise, he said. "She's very capable. She's taken on significant financial responsibility. ... And the money was not an inordinate amount."

Vice Mayor Jim Gray said he suspects the request to table was made because the council would have voted down the salary increase.

Koch does a "great job," said Gray, who would have voted against the increase. "I just think this is the wrong way to go about business in these difficult times ... it's a bad symbol, it's a bad message at a very bad time."

In other city business, the council deadlocked on a motion to table a request to submit an open records request to Blue Grass Airport for copies of documents released to the Herald-Leader since May 1, 2008.

Newberry broke the tie by voting to table the open records request.

Newberry said he voted to table the request because the state auditor is already examining expense records at the airport.

"The mayor's tie-breaking vote was chilling to those who believe in transparent government," said Gray, who had asked the council to send the open records request. "I don't understand how any elected official can be against a legal request to review public records."

Councilwoman Cheryl Feigel asked to table the open records request because she plans to introduce an alternate idea at Tuesday's work session. Feigel wants the council to ask for a report from the airport board about the investigation into expenditures at the airport.

Gray said he supports Feigel's idea because he has many questions, but he prefers that the council does both, get a report from the airport and get the copies of the documents.

Former airport executive director Michael Gobb and three of his top lieutenants resigned in January after the Herald-Leader revealed the four had spent at least $532,000 of the airport's money on travel and other expenses in the last three years.

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