Adams said the project was a legitimate use of the county’s assets because a state law, Kentucky Revised Statute (KRS) 179.375, says that after accepting an access road or driveway to a church, public school or cemetery into a county road system, it can be constructed and maintained by the county. That could explain Adams' rationale that the parking lot was, in fact, a driveway, but it doesn't explain why the magistrates weren't asked to vote on taking the church's parking lot into county maintenance like they do on every other road.
According to road department documents, the project cost more than $6,000. The county provided equipment at a cost of $1,263 and labor at a cost of $866. The Church at Cedar Creek was billed $4,000, the amount County Road Engineer Alan Bowman told the Fiscal Court was the cost of material.
Adams said the parking lot project was completely transparent and work was done in plain view of the highway but he admitted when questioned that he had consulted neither County Attorney Daryl Day or any of the magistrates, which could cause some problems.
The Kentucky Attorney General's Office would not offer an opinion on Adams’ decision until Day decided whether he would defend the decision or not. Day was not available to comment on Monday afternoon or all day Tuesday on the matter. The magistrates will be faced with a tough choice as well; the KRS that Adams cited as authority to build parking lots for churches requires the parking lots to be taken into county maintenance. When questioned, Magistrates Joe Stanley and Dexter Todd said they would not vote to do so, and Johnny Padgett did not respond.
County resident Greg Rice, who attended the meeting, became the target of Adams' ire when he rose and told the court the county wasn't for sale. Adams responded, “Yes it is,” and accused Rice of being in court over the church parking lot construction only because the county has refused to do additional work on the road that leads to Rice's home.
“The only reason you are here is because we won't spend X-dollars on the end of your road,” Adams said.
Rice expressed doubt about the $4,000 cost of material for the project and later provided documentation that showed county estimates for the same material for his road were billed at a higher rate than the church was. For example, the church was billed at a rate of $2 a gallon for tack oil, and the estimate for the project Rice proposed had tack oil at $3 a gallon.
Magistrate Joe Stanley tried to defuse the atmosphere in the court saying, “This is a Christian county and I don't see this as a problem.”
Rice said, “There is (a problem).”
Adams then said, that “when requested, we try to do what is requested if we have the time.”
When Rice asked Adams, “What part of that KRS allows you to pump that much money and time into a church parking lot?” Adams cut him off saying, “This is done. If you want to go to the next level, either civil court or the attorney general, take it there. I don't know anyone who goes to that church.”
What happens next is in the taxpayers’ hands; if an individual wants to sue the county for violating state and federal laws, Day will have to make a decision on whether or not to defend Adams’ decision.
When The Interior Journal contacted the state's Legislative Research Commission, it referred the question to legal representatives of the state Transportation Cabinet. The Transportation Cabinet counsel wouldn't offer an opinion and referred questions to the Attorney General’s Office.
The AGO counsel that handles transportation issues said the ball is in the county attorney's court.