Kentucky League of Cities Under Fire for Keeping Deputy, Insurance Chief

Criticism of the Kentucky League of Cities is mounting over a state audit that criticized its spending, and some member cities are withholding their dues.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reported that some cities are displeased the KLC is keeping Deputy Director Neil Hackworth and Insurance Services chief William Hamilton in the top two posts.

Critical letters have been sent recently by the cities of Cold Spring, Flemingsburg and Taylor Mill.

Former KLC executive director Sylvia Lovely resigned last summer after stories in the Herald-Leader detailed high salaries, excessive spending and conflicts of interest. Member cities pay dues to the league for service including for lobbying, financing and insurance services.

A recent letter from Cold Spring Mayor Mark Stoeber was most direct.

“Shame on you for the blatant, arrogant, self-effacing abuses,” he wrote. “Equally shocking is for the board to allow executives involved in the oversight of such abuses to remain.”

Executive board member Diane Whalen, the mayor of Florence, said she thinks there’s new awareness of the need for change.

“There’s a recognition across the board (that) there needs to be new direction from the top down,” she said. “I do believe there are board members who are taking a look at the situation a little differently than they did in the beginning.”

Board members have been traveling across the state over the last month on a “listening tour” to meet with officials in different cities.

Stoeber said Cold Spring would withhold its annual dues until changes are made and recommended hiring executives from outside immediately. He also said the city would seek competitive bids to the League’s insurance services.

“Such is owed to our residents, who give your organization approximately $120,000 per year,” he wrote.

Board chairman Mike Miller, the mayor of Jackson, declined to comment on future leadership. He said he went to six meetings on the listening tour and heard mostly positive comments.

The League has changed many of its spending and ethics policies; in addition, lawmakers have proposed legislation that requires the League to be more transparent. The league’s board this week approved a search firm to find a new executive director within four months.