Now for the truth.
Ambrosini criticized the decision to reopen the budget. Fact: County code 1782.1 allows for the reopening of a budget. Joe Hardy and I reopened the budget in January 2004 and Ambrosini reopened it in January 2012 so why fault the reopening in January 2016? New commissioners Vicites and Lohr had that same option. It was good they exercised that option because of what was found. It was found that Ambrosini’s budget used all of Act 13 monies, used health insurance funds and moved debt service. His letter claimed there was more than a million dollars in surplus yet it was later revealed that his budget planned on taking a loan of more than $900,000. All of this information came from Sam Lynch during the meetings of the reopened budget. In fact, this newspaper reported, and I quote, “when questioned about moving funding from the debt service and insurance fund line items, Lynch explained that he was directed by the former administration to use the amounts. Zimmerlink then asked, “would it have been your advice to do so” and Lynch responded “no”.
Ambrosini accused me of an illegal act recruiting the assistance of the controller. Fact: County code 1781 outlines the responsibility of the controller for the budget clearly stating that “the controller is a participant in the budget process”. The commissioners’ manual states “the controller is responsible for gathering budget information”. The November 9, 2015 article in the Tribune Review quotes acting controller Sidney Bush saying she hired controller-elect Scott Abraham in November 2 months before he was to take office “so he can assist with the preparation of the budget”.
Ambrosini’s falsely wrote that I did not attend a prison board meeting when a cost study was presented on hiring additional correction officers. Fact: I was present. Later the financial consultant confirmed, as reported in a newspaper, that more than $500,000 was not in the budget to cover the salaries and benefits. Also, just two weeks ago the controller’s office presented the new board of commissioners with financial information proving Ambrosini and Zapotosky cost study numbers were inaccurate.
Ambrosini continues to criticize me on the jail issue. Fact: Ambrosini and Zapotosky held the majority votes in the commissioners’ office and on the prison board for 4 years. They failed to accomplish their goal of building their TajMahal. My lone no vote did not stop them. Fact: The court’s diversionary programs are working resulting in less jail capacity and less out of county rental. The monthly prison report proves it. Ambrosini and others say I have an ill-conceived plan. Fact: I have repeatedly said using our existing site and securing nearby buildings and sites we can address the issues. Recently, I learned of an unsolicited proposal dated February 2015 that was withheld from me and the public which proposed a 245 bed on site facility at a projected cost of $24.8 million. I can see why they withheld that information 2 months before the election. We are learning other information on possible sites were kept from me and the public.
The remainder of Ambrosini’s letter criticized and blamed me for just about everything. The fact is Ambrosini and Zapotosky held the majority vote in the Commissioners’ Office, on the Prison Board and on the Salary Board for 4 years beginning January 1, 2012 and ending December 31, 2015. Despite having the majority votes, they failed to accomplish their biggest goal of building a 480 bed jail in the Dunbar Township Business Park.
With their majority votes, however they did in their 4 years, spend $3.5 million on their jail plans, they raised your taxes without reducing expenses and engaged in a Friends & Family Plan of hiring and awarding contracts.
We are now in 2016. I was re-elected your Commissioner. Ambrosini and Zapotosky were not.
Instead, two newly elected Commissioners join me for this 2016 Term. The new administration will try to correct the errors of the past while working towards a brighter future for Fayette County.