No decision made on new council member Wednesday

By Bev Mullen - For the Record-Herald

The Washington Court House City Council held a special two-hour executive session meeting Wednesday evening to discuss filling the vacancy on council created by the resignation of Trent Dye.

No decision was made following Wednesday’s session. Council has until Jan. 14 to fill the vacant seat. If the vacancy is not filled by that date, a special election will need to be held. The goal is not to have to take that step.

City council members Dale Lynch, Kendra Hernandez, Ted Hawk, Leah Foster, Kimberly Bonnell and Jim Chrisman have scheduled a second special executive meeting to further discuss the vacancy for 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 11. This meeting is prior to the regularly scheduled city council meeting open to the public, which begins at 7:30 p.m.

Council has also scheduled a 4:30 p.m. work session for Jan. 17 to discuss economic goals and priorities.

Trent Dye’s resignation was accepted by council on Dec. 14 after it was reported by the Record-Herald that Dye was the subject of a civil lawsuit accusing him of defrauding his former employer of nearly $400,000.

In a letter dated Friday, Dec. 9 – the same day Dye was called by the Record-Herald for comment – Dye wrote to Dale Lynch, city council chair: “It is with great regret that circumstances have arisen requiring me to resign my seat on the Washington CH City Council effective immediately. I wish everyone the best of luck.”

The civil suit alleges Dye defrauded Paramount Freight Systems, LLC, in Jeffersonville of almost $400,000 over a three-and-a-half year period. The article detailing the complaint published in the Saturday, Dec. 10 edition of the Record-Herald. The complaint was filed in the Fayette County Court of Common Pleas Nov. 30, according to court documents.

Dye was one of three elected to city council out of a five-person race in the November 2015 general election and received the most number of votes.

From the time the resignation was accepted, city council had 30 days to fill the vacancy. City Manager Joe Denen and City Attorney Mark Pitstick have advised council that “all that is required to fill the vacancy is a majority of city council voting to appoint a ‘qualified elector’ of the municipality” within the 30-day period.

If the council does not appoint someone within this time period, Teena Keaton, clerk of council, would be required to request a special election to fill the vacancy from the Fayette County Board of Elections “not sooner than 90 days and not more than 120 days,” according to Denen. A regular election in the same period would also fulfill the requirement. In the case of a special election or a regular election with nothing else on the ballot, the full cost of the election would be the responsibility of the City of Washington Court House.

The appointment will be for the remaining years of the term, which is roughly three years.

By Bev Mullen

For the Record-Herald