The chairman of the Louisville town finance committee looked the mayor in the eye and challenged him to “man up and apologize” in connection with a controversy that cost Kathy Lovingood, the Louisville town administrator, her job Tuesday.
The mayor indicated later that’s not likely to happen because in his mind an apology is not justified.
Wayne Lance, chairman of the Louisville Finance and Administration Committee, issued the challenge Wednesday night at the committee’s last meeting. The panel is being dissolved Friday based on a resolution passed Tuesday by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.
Much of the final meeting was taken up with a discussion of the Oct. 16 Octoberfest event in Louisville that benefited the Shop With a Cop program, in which low-income children get to Christmas shop accompanied by a member of law enforcement.
Octoberfest raised more than $4,000 for the program, but Mayor Tom Bickers said the project also ran afoul of state law and established procedure by having event funds deposited in a bank account on which the mayor was not a signatory.
Donielle Stone, chairman of the town’s Parks and Recreation Committee, gave the four members of the committee a detailed accounting of about $9,000 that was collected from private and corporate donations for the event, plus a snapshot of how the money was spent.
Stone said that during planning stages for Octoberfest, numerous attempts were made to get the previous mayor, Geraldine Anderson, to sign as signatory on a separate, new town checking account to be used for event deposits and disbursements, but those attempts failed.
On advice of the town’s outside financial advisers, Decosimo Certified Public Accountants, Stone and town Administrator Kathy Lovingood opened a new town account for that purpose with themselves as signatories because the event date was fast approaching.
Bickers said after the Wednesday meeting that he had not heard before that the new account was a city account, but irrespective, “proper procedures were not followed.” Either the account was not a city account, or it was and had the wrong people as signatories.
Either way, he said, “there is no question proper procedure was not followed.”
But that’s not the way the finance committee saw it. At the Wednesday meeting, the four members present passed a resolution commending both Lovingood and Stone for their efforts and affirming the committee’s belief that the accounting of the funds was handled properly and that there was no hint of impropriety.
“There is absolutely no way this was wrong,” Lance said.
Committee member Sandy Murrin called the controversy the “biggest disgrace” the town had ever experienced and glared at Bickers as she said, “I don’t know how you can live with it.”
Scott Anderson, another committee member who had participated in the Octoberfest effort, said the mayor’s actions were “personally insulting” and that the event funds were handled in the “best possible way.”
Lance said the transparency of the transactions was “beyond reproach” and that he hopes the mayor “will man up and apologize. I am delighted we got the opportunity to set the record straight.”
The meeting was attended by Lance, Murrin, Scott Anderson and committee member Randy Trusley, as well as Bickers, Lovingood, Stone and three others.
The committee also passed a resolution calling on the Board of Aldermen and Mayor not to abolish the committee.
Bickers said his restructuring of city government will replace two committees with three and involve more citizens in town business.
The motivation behind the move, he said, is to reduce expenses and flatten the government bureaucracy.