MURRAY — The Calloway County Public Library Board of Trustees continued to discuss the potential need for legal representation for the library during its regular meeting Tuesday.
For months, the board had asked Library Director Mignon Reed to inquire with various attorneys in the area about being held in retainer for the board. The proposed need stemmed from a ruling from the Kentucky Attorney General in December 2018 that ruled the board had been in violation of open meeting laws for a special called meeting held in October 2018.
Since that ruling, members of the board have continued to propose the need for better legal counsel to aid the library should similar events unfold in the future. Reed presented the costs of some legal counsel that had offered their services to the board during the Tuesday meeting.
“From the discussion last month about professional services and attorney fees: in 2018-19 we budgeted $2,700 and we paid out $3,976.30, so we were over budget,” Reed said. “In the approved budget for 2019-20 … we added $5,000, so that is what has been budgeted.”
Reed said that Boehl, Stopher & Graves of Paducah had sent the library information saying they could represent CCPL and the board for a retainer of $6,000 a year and an hourly rate of $250. Reed also spoke with the offices of attorney Wes Sullenger, and said that a retainer fee would be waived for the library, with an hourly rate of $250. Attorney Greg Taylor represents the board on matters concerning real estate, and with no retainer, his hourly rate is $175.
Trustee Mark Kennedy, who was chairing the meeting in the absence of Board President Audrey Neal, asked if there was a motion to accept Sullenger as the board’s retained council. Trustee Winfield Rose made the motion with a second from trustee Joseph Walker. In discussion, trustee Riley Ramsey said he would like to make this decision with a full board present, and after Walker’s seat is filled by the Calloway County Fiscal Court once his term expires.
Ramsey also asked if the board has current legal representation through the Kentucky Department of Libraries and Archives. Reed said that the library does have access to legal counsel through KDLA.
“I would like to wait until we have Audrey and we have either Joe or a new board member before we agree to spend more money,” Ramsey said. “I don’t feel like we need to spend it because we have legal counsel if we need it.”
Rose said the board was not agreeing to pay Sullenger anything, but was just wanting to keep the attorney on retainer should he be needed. Rose also expressed dissatisfaction with the representation provided through KDLA.
“We are not spending any money, we haven’t asked Mr. Sullenger to do anything. We are not committing to give him any business, we are just saying if we have business we will give it to him,” Rose said. “Let me also say, Mr. Ramsey — with all due respect — that in this previous complaint about violating the open meetings act, the representation that this board got from this attorney was not worth, as President Truman used to say, a pitcher of warm spit.
“I have read all of that information, including the attorney general’s opinion and so forth, and it was very poor quality. I am just saying that this attorney that we already have is not a good one, in my opinion, and we need another one.”
Rose and Walker voted in favor of retaining Sullenger as legal counsel for the board on all matters other than real estate. Ramsey cast a no vote and the motion died on the floor.