January 10, 2020

New Year, New Decade-Let's do a Legal Review

New Year, New Decade, Let’s Review!

Now that we are all back in the gym and eating healthy… just kidding, I still love cake. But the new year is a good opportunity to review a few items that may not have been on the radar for a bit. This article suggests a few items that cities might want to check on to start the year with a good foot forward.

Interlocal Agreements

Interlocal agreements are those agreements between cities, counties, charter counties, urban-county, governments and sheriffs pursuant to KRS 65.210 through 65.300. Generally, these agreements are cost saving measures for the city and the other public agency. Whether it addresses revenue sharing, man-power allocation, shared facilities, or 911, these agreements should be reviewed and updated regularly. Were they submitted to the Department for Local Government for review? (KRS 65.260 (2)) Were they filed with the county clerk and the Secretary of State? (KRS 65.290) Have they expired? Do they address issues that are no longer relevant? If you are uncertain of what interlocal agreements are in place for your city, you are not alone. Interlocal agreements are searchable online. If you believe there is an interlocal agreement in place but are unable to locate it in the DLG database, you can also contact your county clerk or the Kentucky Secretary of State’s office.

Boards and Commissions

Cities exercise the authority to establish boards and commissions differently from one another. Some cities do not utilize boards and commissions at all while other cities create numerous boards and commissions that assist in the effective administration of government. Board members and commissioners serve different terms of appointment depending upon the governing statute and/or ordinance setting up the board or commission. It is vitally important to review the terms of the appointed board members and commissioners to make sure that appointments and reappointments have been timed appropriately.

Additionally, some cities may have established boards that no longer function for one reason or another. Repealing the ordinances establishing defunct boards and commissions can help streamline the city’s ordinance book as well as remove any impediments to effective government administration. An alternative to repealing the enacting ordinance is to reconstitute a board or commission. That may require appointing members with staggering terms according to the appointment section of the statute and/or ordinance and providing the public with notice that the board or commission will again be active.

Each time a new board member or commissioner is appointed, the mayor is required to distribute certain open meetings and open records materials within 60 days of the appointment pursuant to KRS 65.055. Distribution can be through electronic means, but the mayor must obtain a signed proof of receipt from the newly appointed official. After this is completed, the mayor sends a certificate of distribution to the Kentucky Office of Attorney General. These materials and forms are available on the Attorney General’s website.

Ethics

Cities are required to adopt an ethics ordinance pursuant to KRS 65.003. But have you reviewed and updated your ordinance lately? Have you conducted ethics training for your city officers, employees, and appointed officials? If you are unsure, then you probably want to check. Also, make sure to distribute the ethics ordinance to all employees, officers, boards, and commission members. You can find information about KLC’s model ethics ordinance and the Certified City of Ethics program. 

Ordinances

KRS 83A.060(11) mandates that at least once every five years, cities examine ordinances in the composite index or code of ordinances for internal and state law consistency and revise ordinances as necessary to eliminate redundant, obsolete, inconsistent, and invalid provisions. If this has not occurred in a while, now is as good a time as any to dust off the code of ordinances and cut any dead weight. Doing so may save the city time, money, and shelf space.

These are just a few items that cities can consider reviewing to start off this new decade on solid footing. For assistance with these or any other municipal law issues, please contact Morgain M. Patterson, Director of Municipal Law and Training, (859) 977-4212.