Kentucky Town Agrees To Pay Police Chief In Bitcoin

Vicco, Kentucky, a town of 300 about 120 miles east of Lexington, has agreed to their police chief's request to be paid in Bitcoin. Vicco is likely the first city in the country to offer a government employee the option of payment with a virtual currency. 

zcopley / Foterzcopley / FoterAccording to the Hazard Herald, Police Chief Tony Vaughn appeared before the city commission last month to request that he receive his salary in Bitcoins rather than dollars. The commission opted to hold off on granting Vaughn's request in order to research the logistics and legalities of such a move. On Monday, the commission ruled that it would not be a problem and approved a city measure that would allow the transactions.

"We [sic] done a checkup on it, and that's the way he wants paid [sic], and that's the way the city is going to pay him," Commissioner Claude Branson told the Hazard Herald

Vaughn will still pay state and federal taxes, Mayor Johnny Cummings explained. The city will remove the applicable taxes prior to depositing his pay in an online account for the city, where it will then be transferred to Vaugh's Bitcoin account. 

Mayor Cummings said that the city account has been set up and Vaughn will likely receive his first Bitcoin payment by the next paycheck cycle. 

Vaughn told reports he was "excited" about the commision's decision. In an interview with Business Insider, Vaughn said he learned about bitcoin three months ago through his son, when he became convinced virtual currencies are the future. "I pretty much think it will eventually take over," he said, "or I hope it does."

Vaughn also said, "We're a small town, so we're trying to take every progressive move we can make. So it's just an interesting experiment."

The news comes on the coattails of several Bitcoin breakthroughs, including the currency's surge past a $1,000 value in late November and somewhat supportive remarks from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. 

However, Tech Dirt's Mike Masnick thinks the whole thing could be little more than a publicity stunt

Vicco got a lot of attention a few months back when it was featured on the Colbert Report for having a gay mayor and passing a "fairness ordinance" against discrimination.

Police Chief Vaughn is among those featured in the video, talking about how Mayor Cummings is his best friend. After that show, the town discovered that a bunch of folks wanted to donate money to the town.

Both Cummings and Vaughn have talked about "capitalizing" on the attention, including appearing on a reality TV show. A reality TV show where they show off how "unusual" they are? Suddenly the idea of a wacky police chief who gets his salary paid in Bitcoin seems like yet another "hook".

Perhaps supporting Masnick's cynical interpretation, the city plans to set up a Bitcoin account where visitors are encouraged to donate to help pay for local infrastructure improvement projects. 

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Doctor Whom||

    The SCOTUS has held that free speech includes the right not to be forced to carry someone else's message. No one has explained to me why there is a right to force bakers to carry a message, aside from painful-to-read misquotes of the Constitution and "You're a Nazi."

  • Doctor Whom||

    Wrong article. Damn.

  • Lord Peter Wimsey||

    The question is, will he take bribes in Bitcoin?

  • SweatingGin||

    Scooped it Wednesday night.

    Police one commenters display their brilliance. Plenty assume he must be spending it all on drugs.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    "We [sic] done a checkup on it, and that's the way he wants paid [sic], and that's the way the city is going to pay him," Commissioner Claude Branson told the Hazard Herald.

    Vaughn's just trying to keep the revenuers off his back.

  • ||

    Vaughn's pay, still set in US dollars, will receive standard federal and state deductions, the Hazard Herald reports, before being converted into Bitcoin based on current trading values at the time of pay and deposited into an account held by Vicco.

    Almost a shame he didn't get that past them..

  • SweatingGin||

    Perhaps supporting Masnick's cynical interpretation, the city plans to set up a Bitcoin account where visitors are encouraged to donate to help pay for local infrastructure improvement projects.

    The interesting way to do this is setup a transaction that can be funded by anyone. It's got an output amount paid to an address (say, 100 BTC to SweatingGin to build a lighthouse), but the inputs are a script that says "Anyone can fund". Presumably with a time limit.

    If inputs are added that total the amount of the output, the transaction gets confirmed and pays. If not, the transaction dies, and nothing happens.

    It's an assurance contract built right into the protocol.

    There's a lot of other similar things that can be done with transactions, too, such as escrow, n-of-m signatures, and using particular coins to represent title to real property.

  • BakedPenguin||


  • SweatingGin||

    I know a few people have talked about doing it, not sure if it has actually happened yet. entirely do-able with protocol level stuff, though (meaning if your business that runs the kickstarter disappears, the transaction still happens.)

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    I don't think the [sic]s were necessary. The benighted use of it is grating, to say the least.

  • mr simple||

    That rubbed me wrong, too, but i thought maybe I was overly sensitive to people trying to show how much better they are than us dumb Kentuckians/southerners in general.

  • robc||

    Had to map it.

    East of Hazard [shudder].


Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties