Oak Grove City Council met Tuesday night for a regular meeting to approve the first reading of the compensation plan ordinance and continue discussions regarding the council hiring an outside auditor to conduct an independent forensic audit.

On Aug. 27, the council held a special meeting to consider the compensation plan and approved that it be accepted but tabled the ordinance that would put the plan into effect.

Council member Kisha Mische-Jeffrey made a motion at that meeting to table the first reading as the ordinance needed to be updated with new city personnel policies that City Clerk Angela Comperry said she was still working on.

On Tuesday, the first reading of the ordinance was put back on the agenda at the request of Council member Jackie Oliver, who shared that she wanted to approve the ordinance in order for those employees who deserved a pay raise, would be able to get them through the ordinance’s increased pay grades.

“We’re having issues with keeping employees and if we don’t take care of them, we’re not going to keep them,” Oliver said about passing the compensation plan ordinance.

“I know that our handbook needs adjusting, but I think that we could get this passed and over and then address the handbook separately.”

However, Jeffrey recalled that the ordinance was tabled due to updates that needed to be made to city personnel policies.

Mayor Theresa Jarvis as well as Mark Gilbert explained that the compensation plan could still be passed as the ordinance would simply refer only to the employee handbook that is currently in place.

Jarvis added that the council can review the handbook and the employee policies at any time without effecting the compensation plan.

Jeffrey shared that she felt the council should review the policies and had asked that be updated prior to the compensation plan ordinance’s passing to have it all considered at once, but added that she was open to holding a vote at the meeting to pass the ordinance.

After that discussion, the council unanimously approved the compensation plan ordinance. The ordinance will go into effect after its passing on the second reading at the next council meeting.

In other council business, council member Janet Edwards advised the council of updates she had regarding her research into the council hiring an auditor to conduct an independent forensic audit or fraud audit.

Edwards shared that she had been in contact with a Lexington accounting firm, Dean Dorton, that specializes in conducting forensic audits to discover malfeasance or irregularities.

“The way he explained it to me, is that he does the audit in waves. So, the first wave is that he would come down and he would talk to several people, employees, city council and look at some of the books to get an overall view of what’s going on,” Edwards said of the accounting firm. “By doing that, he can determine what level of audit we would need to be done.”

Council member James McKnight shared that he is in favor of hiring a firm to conduct an audit but doesn’t like the idea of “writing a blank check” to a firm.

Council member Jean Leavell suggested that the council request that the city’s current auditor, Borland Benefield, to conduct a more in-depth and thorough audit when it conducts its annual audit.

However, members Edwards and Jeffrey both shared their opposition to the idea.

“I’m hesitant to do that because I’ve received questions about the employment history about Borland Benefield, so I would still prefer an outside firm,” Edwards said.

Jeffrey referenced that she received an email from Borland that states the firm routinely reaches out to council members when conducting its usual audit. She shared she called the firm and was told the firm contacted the same individual on the council for each audit and did not have contact with any others.

“I’m not an auditor, but I’ve watched enough CSI to know that should be a red flag,” Jeffrey said.

The council ultimately shared that it would be interested in speaking with the Dean Dorton firm. Edwards stated that she would be in contact with the firm to schedule a virtual meeting with the council.

The council then had a lengthy discussion regarding a proposal from the interim Public Works Director Cody Kirby requesting that the city purchase two new pickup trucks; one for the roads and grounds department and the other for the water department.

Kirby shared that public works has been down at least one truck for the last three to five months due to one of the trucks being out for repair, while another truck that is only used for backup emergencies, has a cracked frame.

After considering the request, the council ultimately unanimously voted to approve the purchase of one pickup truck rather than two.

The council also received a draft of the new municipal order and ordinance on meeting and how they are to be conducted.

However, the council shared that it did not have enough time to review the order and ordinance and decided it would review them and take a vote on those at the next council meeting.

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