BEATTYVILLE, Ky. (LEX 18) - A social media storm started a heated argument Thursday night between some members of the Lee County Fiscal Court and community members. It all happened during the Fiscal Court's monthly meeting.
The Judge Executive says the county recreational center hasn't been paying rent for years but Kentucky Mountain Mission, who operates the center, says they had an understanding with the previous administration.
People attending the meeting were emotional, but everyone has the same goal; to keep the recreational center open for the kids of Lee County.
Judge Executive Chuck Caudill says when he took office in January, the fiscal court was looking through the county finances and noticed that the Lee County Recreational Center had not been paying rent, even though they signed a lease in 2004. Per the lease agreement, in 2019 the recreational center would be paying $500 a month.
The Kentucky Mountain Mission runs the rec center. Their director, William Owens, says the bills were paid when they received them. After seeing the impact on the community, Owens says the previous administration didn't ask for rent. "But it was never in writing. It was just a handshake deal they were going to redo it. And it never got done. But they all honored it, all the way up through until this administration, " Owens said.
During the meeting, Judge Executive Caudill said he started negotiating rent at $1,800 a month. Five hundred for rent, plus 10% of the center's income, in order to pay back the unpaid rent. But many people argue charging the recreational center any rent at all would cause it to shut down.
Two of the four magistrates said they would vote to simply give the center to the Kentucky Mountain Mission for free. Judge Caudill says the discussion is just the start of the negotiation process.
"I want to keep it open just as much as Reverend Owens does. But I want to do it the right way. That's my goal. Is to make sure that we continue to use community funds, continue to use tax payer money, when we can get it, the right way," Judge Caudill said.
Members of the fiscal court say they expect to make progress on this issue before their next meeting on November 14th.