Consulting Firm Makes Transparency Recommendations to Louisville Metro Council

by Devin Katayama on November 14, 2011

A consulting firm has made recommendations to the Louisville Metro Council to increase transparency and accountability in discretionary spending.

The council hired Mountjoy Chilton Medley for nearly $10,000 to review its policies and procedures in response to reports of questionable spending earlier this year. The report was presented to the Government Accountability and Ethics Committee Monday night.

The report shows several areas where the council’s practices do not meet its policies. Recommendations ranged from requiring more paperwork to having council members and their staffs undergo regular training. The report further asks that a four-hour training session developed by a council staff member be adopted by the Metro Council and updated on a regular basis as policies change.

Committee co-chair Kevin Kramer said the recommendation’s language requires more discussion.

“There are several areas where some folks are going to want to do one thing, others are going to say not only is that contrary to practice, it oversteps the problem that we have. So there’s going to be some movement towards some middle ground,” said Kramer.

The committee will meet at the end of the month to discuss how “public purpose” is defined. This conversation will set the range for what council members can ethically use their nearly $200,000 dollars of discretionary spending for.

Mountjoy Chilton Medley partner Brad Smith said council members’ responses to the report are similar to those in other city governments. Public purpose with regards to discretionary spending will always elicit discussion, he said.

“It’s just hard to specifically define. People want a large definition to that, that gives you some latitude but that also creates ambiguity to that process and therein lies the problem,” Smith said.

The committee needs to make any decisions on policy changes by year’s end, said committee chair Tina Ward-Pugh. She said the council owes it to the public to respond to how it intends on creating more transparency.

Kramer agrees, but adds that committees have the potential to change in the new year; and he said those who have worked on the issue at length should help make the changes that are needed.

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