Politics & Government

Lexington council withholds payment from Bluegrass Area Development District

Lexington's Urban County Council voted Tuesday night to withhold the city's annual $75,000 payment to the Bluegrass Area Development District, and it approved a resolution calling on the state legislature to evaluate the agency, as well as Kentucky's 14 other area development districts.

The Bluegrass Area Development District helps coordinate regional planning and federal spending among local governments in a 17-county area. Its board of directors is made up of mayors, judge-executives and citizens from member counties. There are 15 area development districts statewide.

The Bluegrass Area Development District's executive director, Lenny Stoltz II, was forced to resign last week, but he was then rehired by the interim executive director as a consultant because he's the only employee who understands the accounting system.

The council had been scheduled to vote Tuesday on a resolution authorizing the mayor to execute "purchase of service agreements" for the coming fiscal year with several agencies, including the development district.

But Councilman Chris Ford made a motion to remove the development district from the list, and the council approved the amendment.

Ford has said he is disturbed by the rehiring of Stoltz, who was forced out after a series of problems at the district that started last year with the controversial purchase of a large property on Trent Boulevard to house ex-felons.

State Auditor Adam Edelen's office plans to conduct a special investigation into the district.

Ford has said he would support restarting payments to the district after Edelen's investigation.

The council also passed a resolution asking the president of the state Senate and the speaker of the state House of Representatives to have the Program Review and Investigation Committee examine the business practices, structure and "relevance of the area development districts in today's economy."

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