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Ludlow: City, Youth Football Legal Battle to Continue

The City of Ludlow and Ludlow Youth Football will continue their legal saga, it appears.
 
The Kentucky Court of Appeals issued a notice that the City of Ludlow's pre-hearing statement was overdue, and the issue was raised at Thursday's city council meeting. Paula Graszus, a representative of Ludlow Youth Football (LYF), addressed council during the public comments period and asked whether the city's lawsuit against the organization would be dismissed.
 
"How much taxpayer money will you waste?," she asked.
 
"This is on the lawsuit, and it is in litigation," said Mayor Ken Wynn. "This matter is not on the agenda."
 
City Attorney Jeff Otis told The River City News on Monday that the City of Ludlow would be submitting its pre-hearing statement, which it has ten days to do after receiving the Appeals Court's notice, and that it would move forward with its appeal.
 
In February, Kenton Circuit Court Judge Kathleen Lape denied the City's request for a summary judgment that LYF is a public agency and subject to open records requests. The City is attempting to obtain financial records related to city contributions to the organization's annual fireworks festival and has yet to be satisfied with documents willingly handed over by LYF. 
 
The issue dates back to September 2015 when, after nine years, LYF determined that it could not move forward with its annual fireworks display when the City stated that it could no longer provide its annual contribution of $6,000 for fireworks. It was discovered that the practice of allowing a private organization to lead a municipally-funded event is not allowed by state law, Otis said, as reported by The River City News at the time.
 
The City had planned to produce its own festival in the spring of 2016, but ultimately decided to cancel that
 
In December 2015, the City took legal action to see the accounting related to LYF's handling of the city's annual contribution, arguing that the information was needed to satisfy its statutorily-mandated annual audit.
 
Weeks later, the City appeared to drop its legal action against LYF, but then a couple weeks after that, conflicting characterizations of LYF's corporate status, whether it was nonprofit or for-profit, prompted legal action to resume. In February of last year, Mayor Ken Wynn broke a 3-3 tie to move forward with legal action.
 
Wynn later wrote an op-ed published by The River City News explaining why he believed it to be important that the City proceed with legal action, and that prompted an op-ed response from LYF, also published by The River City News.
 
In January, LYF offered a settlement to the City, and amended that offer following Lape's decision, asking for 75 percent of the organization's attorney fees, or roughly $12,000.
 
Other notes:
 
The City of Ludlow's annual audit was completed and presented by John Chamberlin of Erlanger-based Van Gorder, Walker & Co. He said that the City should aim to have $850,000 cash on hand and currently has $296,000, which is $150,000 ahead of where it was at this time last year. City Administrator Elishia Chamberlain added that the City has paid off its tax anticipation note.
 
Council also voted to instruct attorney Jeff Otis to represent the city in the effort to obtain property located at 331-333 Elm Street in a Master Commissioner sale. The only dissenting vote was councilman John Geiser.
 
On the litigation part of the executive session, no decision was made.
 
Council voted to change the start time of the caucus meeting on May 25 to 6:30 p.m. to accommodate a special meeting at 7 p.m. which will include discussion on the upcoming budget and on parks. 
 
Police Chief Scott Smith announced that the police department received a $1,000 donation from Norfolk Rail.
 
Written by Michael Monks and Patricia A. Scheyer