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I’m more than a little steamed and it’s not because of the hot weather we’ve had recently.
I’m hot under the collar because of situations and things I just can’t fathom.
I can’t imagine what $3 million dollars looks like, let alone feels like, but that’s about the amount that the University of Kentucky’s former president Charles T. Wethington Jr. (1989-2001) milked from the state’s flagship institution over the last 11 years when he left the presidency and moved into being a fundraiser for UK and then as a professor for the Bluegrass Community Technical College.
Basically, when the university’s board of trustees helped him step down, they were forced to make it worth his while to do so, but come on that’s a lot of Benjamins.
No, I don’t personally know Wethington. I don’t even know anyone on UK’s board, so why am I spouting off about it and what’ my connection?
I’m a parent with a child who chose to attend UK, the only school she’d even visit, so that’s why decisions and shenanigans like this that touch my pocket make me mad.
For the last two years, there have been tuition hikes at UK. Just recently, the university announced it would not be filling 160 vacant positions and it would laying off 140 employees or 1 percent of its work force.
I know times are tough.
We see and hear it every day in this community. There are small businesses who are making weekly payments on their advertising bill and not advertising as much because their business is down.
Look at the city of Williamstown’s budget. They city took in less money in utilities last year than the year before. Why? As Mayor Rick Skinner put it, people are watching their bills closely and conserving electricity and water because they have to.
The Williamstown City Council and Williamstown Board of Education have been talking about an aquatic center for a couple of years, but because times are tough and the money isn’t there, the project has been shelved.
The Williamstown City Council also addressed overtime concerns and changed their policies on overtime so that employees must work 40 hours without using vacation before they are eligible for overtime.
That’s smart and fiscally responsible.
I’m sure the employees were sad, and even a little mad, to see this kind of change, but as a citizen I’m not. That’s what we elect those boards, councils, courts and commissions for – to make sound financial decisions and be good stewards of the money they have.
Other departments and agencies are making tough calls these days about filling empty positions or buying and replacing equipment and vehicles. That’s just a fact of the times.
It encourages me to see that our local governmental agencies, like the city councils, school boards, and government are taking a close look at their spending because the dollars they are spending belong to you and me, either in the form of taxes or usage fees.
That’s what is so disheartening when I read stories like the one about Wethington or even in Frankfort and Washington about the waste of my hard-earned dollars.
My belief is that government, be it local, state, national or even educational should be about providing service and not about lining some guys Caymen Islands bank account.
That is just plain wrong.
(Jamie Baker-Nantz is editor of the Grant County News. She can be reached at 859-824-3343 or by e-mail at email@example.com.)