Union terminates contract with city engineer: ‘We made it perfectly clear’

Douglas Clark
Douglas Clark
Douglas Clark is LINK nky's Boone County reporter

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After 19 years as the City of Union’s engineer, Barry Burke’s contract was terminated earlier this month. 

Commissioners agreed on the termination on Sept. 6, citing alleged violations that included doing work Burke was not authorized to do and billing for unapproved time, Mayor Larry Solomon said. The problem, Solomon said, was a recurring one. 

In August, Solomon said, Burke billed for unapproved hours and submitted reports that detailed his thoughts on a street repair program.  

Those reports, Solomon said, went against the public work director’s plan. All work, according to Burke’s contract, must be assigned, requested, directed and authorized by the public works director, Solomon said. 

“We’ve known of this issue for quite a while,” Solomon said. “It’s apparently come to a head and staff recommendation is that they cannot go further with this. I personally support this recommendation.” 

Commissioner Jeremy Ramage said his expectation is that directives be clear and followed.

“For as long as I’ve been here, we’ve tried to put some form of chain of command into the organization to try to build a staff – so we can step back and let the staff run,” Ramage said. “We can provide guidance.”

Burke was paid $115 per hour and worked solely in a contractural capacity during his tenure, Union City Administrator Amy Safran told LINK nky. Burke was informed Sept. 7 that his contract would be terminated effective Oct. 7. 

Solomon said Burke previously had problems doing things outside of what he was authorized to do. 

“We made it perfectly clear that the public works director, at that time it was David Plummer, was supervising him,”  Solomon said. “He had problems doing stuff on his own and billed us for it. He was unauthorized.”

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In response to a LINK nky request for comment, Burke thanked the previous Union city administrations for support as city engineer.

“It seems like legal engineering service contracts via termination without cause does not mean anything,” Burke wrote in an email to LINK nky. “Without the services of a qualified, licensed engineer in good standing with the state of Kentucky, the safety, welfare and health of the public will not be protected for engineering related issues effective Oct. 7.”

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