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Sun, Mar 26, 2017 06:06 PM
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue
Former Inez clerk files second lawsuit in week
INEZ Former Inez city clerk Sheila Hardin filed a civil complaint against the city of Inez in Martin Circuit Court April 2 alleging, among other things, that she was fired for reporting "illegal" activity by commissioners. This is the second suit filed by Hardin in less than a week.

Hardin is alleging in her latest complaint that each of the four commissioners illegally voted to raise their pay and that they were wrongfully receiving funds from the Local Government Economic Assistance fund (LGEA) for their salaries. Hardin also claims she was terminated as city clerk because she made a report to a state agency about the city's improper use of LGEA funds.

Hardin reportedly wrote a letter to the Department for Local Government (DLG) the day she was fired (February 13, 2003), which a DLG representative said they received February 18.

In the letter, Hardin told the DLG "the city of Inez is spending LGEA funds for administrative expenses" and continued to say "the city commission doubled their salaries."

During a meeting in September 2002, the commission was advised by city attorney Tom Hardin that the city had never legally adopted an ordinance decreasing the monthly pay to $100 for commissioners.

Under attorney Hardin's advice, the commission was obligated to pay members the $200 per-month salary established by a previous commission. The mayor's salary is $300 per month.

According to the 2002 fiscal year budget, the city generated a total of $33,574. That amount was supplemented by various state funds, but the state money was earmarked for specific uses. All administrative expenses, including salaries for the commission and the clerk as well as office supplies, rent, attorney fees, a portion of the maintenance and utilities must come from city-generated revenues. Hardin received a salary of $29,999.97 in 2002, but she was only budgeted $23,355. City commissioners make a combined total of $9,600 per year, and the mayor is paid $3,600 annually. With just the salaries deducted from the $33,574 in the city generated funds, a deficit of $9,625.97 was created in that fund for 2002.

New city clerk Candy Crum said that none of the city's financial records had been reconciled when she replaced Hardin and that it was "impossible" to tell what had been spent from each fund when she took over the position.

"As city clerk/treasurer, it was her (Hardin) responsibility to advise the commission if city generated funds were running low to insure that no other funds were used for something other than what they were intended," Crum said. "It was also her responsibility to maintain and reconcile the bank records to insure they were accurate, and that wasn't done. I am still trying to reconcile the bank statements. It hadn't been done since 1999."

Hardin has retained Jonah L. Stevens of Hamilton & Stevens, PLLC of Pikeville to represent her in the case and is asking for a jury trial as well as "punitive damages for the malicious actions" of the defendants and any compensatory damages she may be entitled to.

While the complaint has been lodged against the city of Inez, Mayor Penix was not named in the suit. Only Commissioners Maynard, Muncy, Sparks and Endicott are named.

Hardin also filed a complaint in Pikeville federal court March 27, accusing City Police Chief Mitchell Williamson of wrongful arrest. In that case, Hardin is asking for $1 million in punitive damages from Williamson. Hardin is being represented in the federal lawsuit by Ned Pillarsdorf.

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