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‘It’s on you, Mayor’

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Hagan calls Royalty out on police overtime; mayor blames former chief, finance director

By Randy Patrick

In less than four months, the Bardstown Police Department has spent almost half of its annual overtime allocation — even though the City Council increased the line item by $15,000 this year.

A search of police pay records shows nearly 1,600 hours of overtime since July 1.

According to Tracy Hudson, the city’s chief financial officer, the department has spent 47 percent of its $135,000 police overtime budget — or, as Safety Committee Chairman Bill Buckman stated in his report to the City Council Tuesday, “about $65,000.”

Buckman went over reasons overtime spending was so high, including being shorthanded three officers, having unanticipated incidents such as a homicide, heavy security for festivals and other events and catching up on training.

He said Capt. McKenzie Mattingly, the acting police chief, and Lt. Brad Gillock, a certified training officer, are “working diligently to bring this overtime back in line.”

Councilman Fred Hagan, however, wasn’t satisfied. He said he could understand that there are unforeseen circumstances, but he wanted Mayor John Royalty to tell him what other changes had occurred since the time the budget was developed that had caused the department to nearly double its overtime pay spending during the first quarter.

“All of this overtime — you’re telling me that none of that was anticipated? That all of this came to light after the budget was passed? That’s terrible planning,” Hagan said.

Royalty said the budget was not Mattingly’s budget; it was one that had been “worked out” between Hudson and former Police Chief Rick McCubbin.

“That is not on this current …” Royalty started to say, but Hagan cut him off.

“It’s on you, Mayor. That’s what I’m telling you,” the councilman said.

Royalty said if he knew “exactly how to do the Police Department’s budget, I would do that.”

That’s the work of the department heads, he implied, but it’s ultimately his budget.

Buckman said that among the reasons the overtime was over budget were that McCubbin had been giving flex team (SWAT team) officers compensated time, which ran up the overtime for other officers, and that Mattingly was doing training for officers that should have been done before, but wasn’t.

“All of this is being rectified,” Buckman reiterated. “We’ll stay within budget, or pretty close.”

Royalty said he has halted all training for this year that isn’t required.

McCubbin says mayor responsible for budget

McCubbin said in a Facebook post, and later in an interview with the Standard, that he was surprised to learn he was being blamed for a department budget that was finished after he retired May 31.

He said in the social media message that, first of all, the budget is not something created by department heads and the chief financial officer.

“It is the mayor’s budget with the council holding the purse strings,” he said.

McCubbin said that after announcing his retirement in April, he contacted Royalty about a request concerning a line item in the proposed budget, and the mayor advised him to “do nothing,” because he was retiring. The chief referred to Royalty’s instructions as a “hands-off directive.”

The new budget took effect July 1, the beginning of the fiscal year, and a month after he had retired May 31. But by April, McCubbin said, “I was done.”

“None of this was my budget,” he said.

As for the assertions by Buckman and Royalty that he had neglected training, McCubbin said he wasn’t sure what they were referencing.

It would not have been state-mandated training, he added.

“The state would have shut me down if that had been the case,” he remarked.

McCubbin said it was rare that he ever turned down an officer that wanted training, but that didn’t blow up the overtime budget.

“I never paid overtime for training,” he said. “That was your work week.”

He would adjust the officers’ schedules, he said, to accommodate the training.

McCubbin said he also stopped the practice of paying officers overtime to travel to their training, but has since learned that officers are again being paid for their driving time.

As for Buckman’s repeated assertion that McCubbin was paying comp time, which is not illegal for a city government if the employee requests it, McCubbin explained that if an officer trained during the day and he was scheduled to work that night, he would let the officer have the night off if all the shifts were covered.

“I did that to control the budget,” he said, and it worked well.

McCubbin also said that he and former Mayor Bill Sheckles were the ones who changed the city’s policy to require sponsored festivals to pay for their own security by hiring off-duty officers, but that he would also have extra officers on the beat during big festivals such as Buttermilk Days and the Kentucky Bourbon Festival.

Royalty’s response

Tuesday night, the mayor, after reading the former police chief’s remarks, reaffirmed what he had said at the meeting about McCubbin and the department’s spending plan.

“That was his budget,” he said.

It’s “unfortunate” that McCubbin would deny it, “but that’s Rick,” he added.

“Rick has another life now, and we’ve moved past Rick,” Royalty said.

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