Garrard avoids disruption in prisoner transport

April 14, 2004|JIM LOGAN

LANCASTER - Garrard Fiscal Court avoided a potential showdown with Sheriff Ronnie Wardrip on Tuesday when it reversed itself and voted to allow Wardrip to keep $12,125 in excess funding so that he might buy weapons and other equipment for his department.

At last month's meeting, the magistrates rejected Wardrip's request to use the money to buy up to half a dozen new .40-caliber handguns to match those used by Kentucky State Police and other departments.

On Tuesday, Wardrip asked that the court reconsider its unanimous vote. When the magistrates declined, the sheriff told them they were violating their contract with him to provide transportation for prisoners to jails outside Garrard County, and that they would need to find other means to do so on July 1.

The contract, he said, had been agreed to during budget negotiations in March 2003, and allowed him to keep any excess funds for use at his discretion.


But that contract, it was discovered, was never signed. County Attorney Jeff Moss said that the previous, similar contract to provide prisoner transport for $25,000 had expired June 30, 2003.

The original contract, which was signed in 1999, called for the adjustment of deputies' salaries in the event the department's funding produced a surplus. The clause was intended to prevent future surpluses.

Moss said the court and sheriff were working under the old contract since the new one had not been signed.

Wardrip, however, told the magistrates that he believed the new contract - and his discretion for using excess funding - was in play because he had the court's verbal agreement to change it.

Moss told the magistrates that Wardrip had a reasonable argument and suggested they consider the sheriff's request.

"You've got a choice, but if it got to litigation, you could lose," he said.

The magistrates voted unanimously to let Wardrip keep the $12,125.

The court also approved Wardrip's request for $6,200 to cover the costs of the 911 dispatch center.

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