by Jennifer Sierra
In a 67- page, lawsuit filed July 22, 2015 in Campbell County District Court, the City of Dayton, Kentucky filed a complaint against former mayor Kenneth Rankle for “allocation of city funds for a non-public purpose”. The suit states that the former mayor “paid for plans and surveys for Buona Vita Pizzeria”, a restaurant in Dayton’s central business district since 2007. The total amount the city is asking to be paid back is $2,256.25, which according to the Complaint is the total of 2 checks written to Cardinal Engineering for $1,781.25 and $475.00 dated April 2011.
In a confusing twist regarding the referenced checks in Exhibit “B”, the actual total of the two checks written was $2,375.00. This is less than the amount asked for in the lawsuit. One check to Cardinal Engineering was made out in the amount of $1,781.25 and the other $593.75. The 2 invoices from Cardinal Engineering were not included in the Exhibit “A” of the Complaint, only 2 copies of the identical invoice in the amount of $475.00. The Bellevue Dayton Sun acquired copies of the referenced invoices. Although they are included in our article one of the invoices was not included in the complaint filed by City Attorney, Tom Edge.
The city’s legal fees, which they are asking Rankle to pay for as well, could total more than the 2 checks to Cardinal Engineering combined. If judgment goes to Rankle instead of the city, the city is out the money for the legal fees and the money for the salary of the city workers required to gather this information for the case. Was this lawsuit against the former mayor voted on by Dayton’s city council? How much will the city’s legal fees end up totaling? A 67-page Complaint with Exhibits up to the letter “O”, could rack up a very expensive bill for a $2,265.25 lawsuit.
“As the mayor I always did what was in the best interest of the city. I left the city in better shape than it was when I entered office.” Rankle said, “The city administrator, Dennis Redmond, approved invoices that came in for payment and I signed them. The city requires two signatures on every check. The people authorized to sign the checks are the city attorney, the city clerk/treasurer and/or the mayor. I am not sure why the checks were sent out to Cardinal without a second signature. It is the clerk/treasurer’s responsibility to generate checks and secure 2 signatures and that person was and still is Donna Leger. We wanted to help Buona Vita expand their business and bring people into the city. Thriving businesses make thriving communities. I had no motivation or personal gain to help Buona Vita. I have never even gotten a free meal from them. They are one of a few businesses that have hung in there and done pretty well here.”
With regard to this perhaps being a line item expense, Rankle said, “The budget is created and approved by council. The city doesn’t have a line item budget. The reason for this is so the city can transfer money between departments to help the departments that need it and you don’t have to go to council for every dime you spend. As long as you stay within your budget, you are okay. This expense really could have been considered economic development.” When Rankle left office in December of 2014, the city of Dayton had a surplus in their budget.
Joe Fromeyer, owner of Buona Vita, was asked for comment and said he couldn’t speak about this issue on advice from his attorney.
The entire Complaint is attached in the following links: