Special Reports

Airport imposes new ethics policies

New ethics and whistle-blower policies are going into effect at Blue Grass Airport.

Rank-and-file employees, as well as airport executives and board members, have been asked in recent days to sign the ethics policy, which includes sections on gifts, nepotism, record keeping, government investigations, conflict-of-interest issues and use of airport property, equipment and personnel.

Airport attorney Thomas Halbleib said the whistle-blower policy, under which airport employees may report anonymously any questionable practices at the airport, has not generated any complaints. The policy went into effect several weeks ago.

Global Compliance, an independent third-party agency, is providing whistle-blower services. The airport's cost for this service is $895 a year, plus a one-time set-up fee of $1,495.

The institution of new policies and practices at the airport have been in the works for several months as the airport tries to recover from a scandal that resulted in four top officials leaving their jobs. Executive director Michael Gobb and directors John Coon, John Rhodes and John Slone resigned in January amid questions about their spending of airport money.

"We want to do all that we can to make this airport more effective and more efficient," board member Roszalyn Akins said Wednesday before the airport board voted on eight recommendations by its Internal Affairs Committee, which she heads. Among the recommendations was that the manager of administration position be eliminated.

Board members voted unanimously to eliminate that job by June 30. Debbie Kelly, who has filled the post for several years, was making $79,000-plus a year.

A consulting firm had recommended that Kelly's job be "recast" as the position of executive assistant, with a pay range of $50,000 to $60,000.

Kelly, who has been absent from work this week and was not at the meeting, is still on the airport's payroll.

Airport marketing and community relations director Brian Ellestad learned at the meeting that his pay would be reduced from more than $135,000 a year to between $90,000 and $120,000. Also, Ellestad, who previously had unrestricted use of an airport vehicle, will be given a $400-a-month vehicle allowance.

The board voted unanimously for those changes, which will apply not only to Ellestad but also to others at the same management level.

The board also voted unanimously for a salary range of $135,000 to $165,000 a year and a vehicle allowance of $600 a month for the airport's executive director. Gobb made nearly $220,000 a year. Interim executive director Eric Frankl is making $192,000.

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