The Boone County Quorum Court's Budget and Finance Committee and Roads and Buildings Committee met Thursday night, Sept. 5, with only three proposed ordinances advancing to the full quorum court meeting set for Tuesday, Sept. 10.
The first proposal wasn't presented in the form of an ordinance, only as a request from Tonette Madison, director of the Boone County Heritage Museum. She told JPs Boone County is celebrating its 150th anniversary. Arkansas' 62nd county formed on April 9, 1869.
She has been raising funds to purchase banners to mark the county's sesquicentennial. She brought samples of the banners for JPs to look at. A set of five banners, each about six feet high, come with retractable stands. The cost is almost $500 per set. She asked the JPs to authorize the county to purchase two sets. They will be rotated and displayed at the courthouse, other county properties and in locations around the county.
Budget and Finance Committee members agreed to take the request to the full court in the form of an appropriation from the general fund. JP David Thompson agreed to sponsor the legislation.
Last month, Sheriff Mike Moore brought to the court's attention that the county jail was not receiving the reimbursements from the state Department of Correction for the jail housing state prisoners under Act 309. The reimbursements have been going to the county General Fund and not to the County Jail Operations Fund comprised of sales tax revenues directed to it. The sheriff said the reimbursements should be returned to that fund.
An ordinance was presented calling for reimbursements for holding state prisoners shall be deposited in the County Jail Operations Fund.
JPs wanted to check with Legislative Audit about the correct procedure to follow.
JP Jim Harp and committee chairman said Thursday the reimbursements should be going to the jail operations fund and that the ordinance should be approved to correct the error. JP David Thompson said new legislation was passed stating as such.
Sheriff Moore estimated that about $400,000 for jail maintenance has been going to the general fund since 2017. He said that money should be placed back into the proper fund. However, Thompson and some other JPs disagreed, but supported the ordinance directing the reimbursement to the fund going forward.
JP Bryan Snavely will sponsor the ordinance and take to the full court next week.
Harp said he would sponsor the final ordinance for consideration. This housekeeping ordinance will transfer $16,142.12 for commissary expenses to the proper line item under the County Jail Maintenance Fund. This amount is a reimbursement from the Commissary Fund. It was paid from line item 3017-0418-2006 to pay for commissary expenses that should have been paid from the Commissary Fund. The Commissary Fund deposited this amount in Fund 3017 and now needs to be appropriated to the above line item to correct the balance with no new funds appropriated.
The Road and Building Committee, chaired by JP Fred Woehl, did not present any ordinances for consideration, but a general discussion included a variety of topics.
The county is looking for ways to retain employees, particularly in the road department. It has been proposed that the county pay for its employees’ health insurance. Some other counties offer that benefit.
Woehl, who represents the county on the district solid waste board said that a legislative audit will be conducted. He said the district has not been operating under a budget and its employee has not been working under a contract for some time. He said the audit may answer several questions surrounding the operation of the district. He said the audit will not relieve district residents who are paying a yearly $18 fee added to their property taxes.
County Judge Robert Hathaway noted that it is time to replace the road department's fleet of road graders. The county currently leases 10 of the machines, but the cost to lease new machines will be going up considerably. He is weighing the difference of purchasing used machines rather than leasing new ones.
Woehl also announced that the traffic light proposed for the intersection of U.S. 62-65 south of Bellefonte has been released for bid by contractors. Bidding will end on Sept. 9. Woehl said the highway department has projected the light and roadway modifications will be installed sometime in November.