Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson’s office is preparing to take the case for take-home car fees to Jefferson Circuit Court.
Last week, the Kentucky Labor Secretary upheld a hearing officer’s ruling that the city cannot collect fees from police officers who use their city cars off duty without renegotiating the police union’s contract. The city has stopped collecting the fees pending the appeals process.
Last month, the Metro Council amended the city budget to outline how money from the car fees should be spent. Mayor’s spokesperson Chris Poynter says the council’s amendment was a suggestion, and the budget will not need further revisions.
“We as an administration never counted on those dollars because we were most certain that the Labor Secretary was going to uphold the hearing officer,” he says. “We as the administration did not plan to spend those dollars.”
The city has not yet spent the nearly $600 thousand collected from the take home car fees this year, but Poynter says there hasn’t been any decision on whether the funds should be given back to the officers.
“The opinion of the hearing officer—and then what was upheld by the Labor Secretary—did not address the issue of what happens with the old fees. So we really don’t have a clear indication of what to do, if anything, with the old fees,” he says.
Poynter says the money will likely be discussed in the next contract negotiations with the police union in 2011. In the meantime, the mayor’s office plans to appeal the Labor Secretary’s decision in Jefferson Circuit Court. Local Fraternal Order of Police President John McGuire says the officers will ask in court that all of the fees be returned.