August 15, 2012 Edition

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Justices working on error
in E-911 budget process

Susan Johnson
Contributing Writer

The Lawrence County Quorum Court held a special meeting on Aug. 7 to formulate a plan to offset the county's $241,000 E-911 deficit.

Justices presented their plan during Monday evening's regular monthly meeting. Lawrence County Judge Dale Freeman said E-911 had been losing approximately $30,000 to $35,000 annually since 2005 and attributed the loss of revenue to county residents shifting from landline telephone service to cell phone usage.

Lawrence County Clerk Tina Stowers said the deficit was a matter of a lack of a "paper trail" stating all E-911 bills had been paid from county general, however, no ordinance had been approved at the close of each fiscal year to appropriate funds from county general to the E-911 fund.

"It was never addressed," Judge Freeman said. "The money was not shifted from the accounts."

To rectify the lack of previous ordinances, justices approved the transfer of $100,000 from county general to the E-911 fund along with the elimination of two positions, an assistant co-coordinator and grant writer. Freeman said the current mapping co-coordinator has now also assumed the duties of supervisor. The staffing changes went into effect July 1.

The county will also designate two percent of its normal 10 percent carryover to assist in funding the Lawrence County E-911.

"We have resolved the error," Freeman said. "If we all work together we can fix the problem until legislature can come up with something to help fund the E-911 department. All the counties are struggling with E-911 operations."

Also during Monday night's meeting justices:

  • adopted an ordinance setting up a separate account for the Lawrence County Drug Court.

  • approved a resolution concerning the "Close the Gap" project, in support of widening U.S. Hwy. 67 from Walnut Ridge to the Arkansas/Missouri line.

  • passed a resolution to submit matching grant applications for the Lynn Fire Department for the purchase of equipment, and the Lawrence County Fair Association for the repair of an exhibit building.

  • appointed Jim Penn to the Running Water Levee District.

  • heard a report from Judge Freeman concerning the Rails to Trails project. He reported the lowest bid was $99,000, slightly more than the awarded grant. Freeman said asphalt would be laid for approximately 7,600 feet of the project with the final quarter of a mile being laid with rock until more grant money becomes available.

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