Special Reports

Auditor urges sweeping changes to airport policies

After a two-month probe of Blue Grass Airport managers' spending, state Auditor Crit Luallen laid out more than 100 recommendations aimed at fixing policies that were either "circumvented" or "inadequate" in the past.

The airport's board has begun making some changes Luallen has suggested, such as taking away the officials' credit cards.

Other key recommendations include:

■ Reviewing the salaries of top directors using an independent source. This was made in response to more than doubling the salary of former executive director Michael A. Gobb between 2000 and 2008.

■ Limiting association and club memberships, as well as perks such as gasoline, personal cell phone and Internet services that the airport pays for managers. The audit also calls for explicitly defining procedures for bonus payments, barring employees from receiving paychecks early and stopping directors from being able to receive cash for unused vacation days.

■ Setting more stringent guidelines on the purchases of employee gifts to prevent past spending patterns, such as the purchase of hundreds of dollars in toys and $14,741 in holiday hams over three years.

■ Curtailing the practice of team-building exercises, in which officials spent $7,400 for a Richard Petty exercise in one case, and requiring managers to notify the board in advance of such exercises.

■ Reconsidering the need for the airport's DVD library and seeking compensation for the $1,200 worth of missing videos the airport has purchased.

■ Implementing a strict timetable for employees to reimburse the airport and setting policies for the review of reimbursements to prevent employees from double-dipping.

■ Coordinating airport officials' trips in advance to cut down on undocumented expenses and overspending its travel and training budget.

■ Establishing a marketing strategic plan so that the promotions and special events budgets aren't used as catch-all funds that can easily be abused for miscellaneous expenses.

■ Creating a position for an internal auditor who reports directly to the board and establishing a process for airport workers, vendors and the public to anonymously report potential abuses.

■ Having the board be more diligent in recording its actions and discussions in meetings as required by Kentucky laws governing public sessions.

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