GRAYSON Three members on Grayson’s tourism commission resigned Tuesday night during a special meeting of the city council amid controversy over the legality of the board and the appointment of its current members.
Though commission member Glenna McDavid premeditated her resignation prior to the meeting, members Charlotte Sparks and Mignon Colley announced they would step down toward the end of the two and a half hour-long discussion.
Sparks, who was present Tuesday, handed in her letter of resignation along with McDavid, both of whom penned their letters while sitting in the meeting room.
Since Sparks said her resignation would be conditional upon Colley and McDavid’s, Councilman Terry Stamper relayed this information to Colley via text message. She told him she would resign and turn in her letter of resignation to Mayor George Steele in due time.
The topic to be discussed was the proposed restaurant tax the commission is seeking. On Thursday, the commission agreed to have a “fact-finding study” of the tax and report its results to the council.
Steele said objections in the community have already arisen, with the primary argument centered around the legality of the board and its membership.
Because of this, Steele said he wanted to go ahead and correct the issue to save the board problems once the restaurant tax is up for public discussion.
Simply put, the resigned members were illegally instated onto the board, according to Kentucky Revised Statute, all members except members-at-large and the chamber of commerce appointee must live within city limits.
The board has seven seats; two are filled by members-at-large, which are appointed by the mayor. The local chamber of commerce also can appoint someone, as well as the local restaurant association. The motel association can appoint three members.
Since there is neither a motel or restaurant association in Grayson, legally, the appointments default to the mayor. The commission was established through the city council, therefore, appointments in the absence of motel and restaurant associations must fall within the city’s “jurisdiction.”
Because of this, those appointees must live within city limits to be on the board in compliance with Kentucky law.
The most recent ordinance relating to the tourism commission was entered in 1997. Glass said because it was outdated, “... any person looking at that reasonably relied upon what was in there and could make an error.
“But with knowledge comes responsibility. We know there’s an issue now. At minimum what needs to be done is that the old ordinance be amended to comport with statute.”
The council ultimately approved the first reading of the amended ordinance, with Councilman Duane Suttles casting the only opposing vote due.
He said he objected to the ordinance because he did not understand the law, and believed the amended document did not provide a clear solution.
After toying with several different options (one being the completely dissolving the board and later reinstating it, which could take more than 90 days), the residents illegally serving on the board chose to resign.
The four members who were legally in compliance with KRS membership standards remained on the board. Those members are Chairman Jeff Mills (member-at-large), Secretary Cheri Johnson (motel member), Dr. Ken Beck (member-at-large) and Deborah Meenachs Combs (chamber of commerce member).
LANA BELLAMY can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2653. For Twitter updates, follow @lanabellamy_DI.