Lexington Waste Management Scandal: City workers forced to resign amid misuse of resources for personal gain

LEXINGTON, Ky. — A scandal has erupted within the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government (LFUCG), leading to the forced resignations of several city workers. The employees, part of the Division of Waste Management, were found to be misusing the city’s Loan-A-Box program for personal gain, according to discipline charges filed with LFUCG’s Civil Service Commission.

The program provides containers for the disposal of large amounts of debris to residents who have city waste collection services. According to LFUCG spokesperson Susan Straub, four employees have resigned, “and two additional employees face disciplinary action.” Straub said she could not comment further due to the ongoing nature of the investigation. A source close to city hall told the Lexington Times that the investigation began after a citizen reported to their council member that they were offered a chance to be moved to the front of the Loan-A-Box waiting list for $150.

Among those forced to resign were workers in the Division of Waste Management’s Recycling Program, Dumpster Program, and Refuse Collection. Collectively, the workers allegedly delivered Loan-A-Boxes to unauthorized locations hundreds of times. They also collectively claimed hundreds of paid hours for non-work related activities.

The discipline charges say the unauthorized “off-book” deliveries, pick-ups, and disposals were not officially recorded for payment, resulting in funds being diverted from LFUCG and additional costs being incurred by the city. The workers also completed their timecards as if they were working for LFUCG during these unauthorized activities, which allegedly resulted in theft of time.

In addition to the alleged misuse of resources, the charges claim the workers repeatedly failed to complete required pre-and post-inspection reports pursuant to the Pre-and Post-Trip Inspection Policy. This failure to observe safety procedures and submit required reports or forms is also part of the charges against them.

The workers are charged with multiple counts of violations, including intentional or deliberate destruction or unauthorized use of Urban County Government assets, leaving assigned work station without authorization, misconduct, inefficiency, stealing or theft, failure to submit required or completed reports or forms, and failure to observe safety procedures.

Union says drivers were ‘scapegoats’

According to LEX18, The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union local 4468 has raised concerns over the disciplinary actions taken against the drivers. Deon Henry, President of the union, claimed that the drivers were made scapegoats for the mismanagement within the division.

The union alleges that the drivers were not the first and only to transport city-owned boxes without proper channels. They also claim that the drivers were not offered representation from the union during the disciplinary proceedings, which they believe is a violation of their rights.

Meanwhile, union members have expressed dissatisfaction with the division’s leadership and have called for greater transparency. They claim that communication with division leaders has been a struggle and that the culture within the division is not good.

Policy updates, new software could prevent future issues

LEX18 also reports the city has recently passed a resolution authorizing the purchase of more Zonar systems and any necessary agreement with Zonar Systems, LLC for electronic vehicle inspection reporting software, hardware and data plans. The city also authorized more RouteWare technology.

After the drivers resigned, the “Pre and Post Trip Inspection Policy” was updated and posted. It states that drivers won’t be allowed to leave the base until the inspection is complete and after completing the driver is to dispatch “Please check my pre-trip Zonar.”

The policy says any employee and supervisor not completing both daily inspections would be disciplined. The policy is now in effect.

The scandal has sent shockwaves through city hall and raised questions about oversight and accountability within the Division of Waste Management, the Loan-A-Box program, and revenue collection. The city has not shared what consequences supervisors have faced or could expect to face in the future. The investigation is ongoing, and further details will be reported as they emerge.

Photo: A trash receptacle issued by the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government’s Division of Waste Management. (The Lexington Times)