Lawmakers delay action on head of Kentucky Horse Park's contract after questions raised about salary increase

12/10/2014 09:38 AM

FRANKFORT — The Government Contract Review Committee deferred action on newly appointed Kentucky Horse Park Executive Director Jamie Link’s contract after a review by the Personnel Cabinet on Tuesday, citing concerns with Link’s salary compared to the former director and his pay in Gov. Steve Beshear’s administration.

The committee voted 5-0, with Rep. Jesse Crenshaw, D-Lexington, voting “pass,” on the delay until its Jan. 13 meeting. Link, a former chief executive officer for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in 2010 and the horse park’s deputy executive director in 2006, is set to earn a base salary of about $150,000 per year plus benefits in his 19-month contract, roughly 14 percent more than his $131,000 salary as Beshear’s deputy chief of staff and 20 percent more than former KHP Executive Director John Nicholson’s $125,000 annual salary.

Sen. Paul Hornback, R-Shelbyville, called the raise “a pretty drastic increase” given the meager raises budgeted for state employees in recent spending plans and the financial condition of the Kentucky Horse Park.

“I do question going from a salary, increasing the salary as drastically as we have at a facility that is struggling to be in the black to say the least,” Hornback said. “Is that right?”

“Yes sir,” responded Tim Pollard, the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet’s finance director.

“And I know we need people who are good. There’s no doubt about that,” Hornback continued. “But I do have a problem with his salary. I think it’s extravagant.”

Sens. Julian Carroll, D-Frankfort, and Chris McDaniel, R-Taylor Mill, expressed similar misgivings.

“We’re dealing with a question here of, certainly of the attitude of state employees themselves, and you know how we fought that battle of getting them a salary increase,” Carroll said of the current two-year budget.

Link said after the meeting that he understood some of the committee’s concerns, but the panel did not have some details of his contract before Tuesday’s meeting. Since the committee did not vote down the contract, which is effective Nov. 16 through June 30, 2016, Link said he will continue to work under the agreement’s parameters.

“What we’re going to do is we’re going to provide some written documentation to the committee members about how the salary is configured, and then we’ll also meet with the members directly, if they would like, to explain the difference,” Link told Pure Politics in an interview.

“And I think once they see that they’ll see that the difference isn’t nearly what they think it is right now.”

Kevin Wheatley

Kevin Wheatley is a reporter for Pure Politics. He joined cn|2 in September 2014 after five years at The State Journal in Frankfort, where he covered Kentucky government and politics. You can reach him at kevin.wheatley@charter.com or 502-792-1135 and follow him on Twitter at @KWheatley_cn2.

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