Grieshop to address financial issues with IDA Board

By Nola Sizemore nsizemore@civitasmedia.com

March 19, 2014

On the agenda of a special called meeting of the Harlan Fiscal Court on Wednesday was the Harlan County Industrial Development Authority. Harlan County Judge-Executive Joe Grieshop announced he will meet with that board in the old circuit courtroom in the Harlan County Courthouse today at 4:30 p.m.

“This discussion refers back to the audit when there were monies, according to the audit, that were due to the county, because it was really our money,” said Grieshop. “So, that’s getting cleaned up and that whole idea of the county having a $100,000 CD in our name. Then there were other properties that were involved. The money needs to come back to the county, according to the audit. We’re trying to get that all straightened up. So, let’s just say that is in progress.”

In a recent audit of Harlan Fiscal Court released by State Auditor Adam Edelen for fiscal year ending June 30, 2012 in regard to the Harlan County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) the audit said, “the fiscal court should not absorb debt of another operating authority.”

The audit addressing this issue says, “According to the prior audit, the IDA was administratively dissolved in fiscal year 2011. At the time of dissolution, $496,634 was written off by the county, which represented the principal and interest paid by the county and the $100,000 note created when the IDA was formed. The note absorbed by the county, without fiscal court approval, was $176,000. During the audit of the current year, it was noted in May 24, 2012 fiscal court meeting minutes that a budget was approved for the Harlan County Industrial Authority for fiscal year 2013. We were unable to obtain enough information to determine the status of the IDA for fiscal year 2012.

“We recommend the fiscal court determine the status of the IDA. If the IDA is still active, then the fiscal court should determine if the debt should be returned to the operating authority and the county reimbursed for any payments made on its behalf.”

Grieshop’s response to those comments in the audit were, “Harlan County Industrial Development Authority has expressed interest in dissolving. We will pursue this approach and address the issue.”

During the meeting Magistrate David Kennedy asked Grieshop if the court has plans to dissolve the IDA Board.

“The board, at the moment, is dissolved,” said Grieshop.

Kennedy responded by saying, “that was only because the board has been inactive.”

“I think we need an active IDA Board, especially now when it’s time to be looking at ways to create some jobs,” said Kennedy.

“Well, if temporarily the money comes back to the county, we’d put it in the economic development pot. There are other issues beyond that money and I won’t go into that,” said Grieshop. “I will be meeting with them tomorrow.”

Nola Sizemore may be reached at 606-909-4147 or on Twitter @Nola_hde