July 12, 2017 Edition

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Court reviews county finances

Megan Heyl
Staff Writer

Justice Junior Briner gave an update at Monday's Quorum Court meeting regarding the state of the county's budget.

He said the budget committee is looking closely at employee compensation. While the committee is uncertain if this will come in the form of raises or bonuses, they are hoping to have some firm figures in August on what the county can do.

Additionally, the county is working with the Arkansas Jail Standards Committee on determining how to finance additional staff that will be required once the new jail is complete.

Finally, Briner said the county will have to amend the courthouse maintenance budget due to several items that were required this year.

The budget committee is working to have recommendations for the full council at the August meeting.

In other business, County Clerk Tina Stowers informed the court that the county will require new election machines. She said originally the state was going to pay for the machines but that has since changed to the state paying for 50 percent of the replacement costs.

If the county were to purchase the same amount of machines it has currently, the cost would be well over $200,000 for the county. Stowers said the county could operate with fewer machines if voting centers were consolidated to five or six available in the county. That would bring the cost down to between $40,000 and $50,000.

County Judge John Thomison said this isn't something that needs to be purchased for this year. He said many counties will be more adversely affected than Lawrence County and he expects those counties to intervene due to the nature of unfunded mandates.

Also at the meeting:

the court discussed installations of changing stations in the courthouse restrooms. A station has already been added to the women's restroom and one will be added to the men's restroom.

Thomison gave a report on the Arkansas Historic Preservation grant for $150,000 to be used for the courthouse roof. The grant has been awarded, and Thomison said they will start the bidding process as soon as possible on one of the lower sections of the flat roof and then apply for a grant to work on the other lower section.

Thomison also reported on the unpaved road grant, which was not fully funded but will still allow work on a few roads in need. He said he is waiting to hear what roads were approved.

Thomison said while making calls to set up a grading workshop, he learned that Arkansas Department of Rural Development is working to set up a region-wide program in September and they are looking at holding it in Lawrence County. Thomison said he will give updates as he learns more about the workshop.

Sheriff Jeff Yates said he plans to enforce an ordinance from 2011, which authorizes the county to charge convicted prisoners for the cost of transportation and housing while in jail. The cost is set at $35 per day. Yates said he wants County Attorney Clay Sloan to look over the ordinance before he implements it.

the court approved the appropriation of $8,000 to the Lawrence County Fair Fund. The money represents an $8,000 grant from the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration.

Stowers informed the court that she is researching implementing a nepotism resolution and elected officials concealed carry policies.

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