Quorum Court discuss budget, other issues at monthly meeting
The Randolph County Quorum Court heard updates from County Judge David Jansen and elected officials at its monthly meeting Nov. 12.
In the absence of Treasurer Sherry Husky, Judge Jansen gave the financial report which was subsequently approved. Highlights included: The 2020 budget has a remaining balance of 35.39 % for all office budgets combined. The normal remaining percentage at this time of the year is 16.67. The 2020 appropriation is $14,698,027.
Revenue through Oct. 2020 was above projections except the Road, Library and Jail Expansion build.
“County General looks good due to everybody staying in their budgets,” Jansen said. “Solid waste tipping fees increased last year as business increased. Tipping fees from the landfill are higher.”
He also noted that the E-911 funds are above because new money will be in the budget for next year.
“There were substantial raises in income through cell phone usage,” he said. “It’s a blessing. We have fought this all these years and someone finally saw the light and it’s sure helped the budget. Overall we’re pretty good now.”
Sheriff Kevin Bell said he had talked to the U.S. Marshalls’ office regarding housing federal inmates at the Randolph County Jail.
“The US. Marshalls’ office told me it’s going to happen,” he said “They are waiting on final approval from the main headquarters before they get the process started but they did say it was going to happen probably after the first of the year. I think it will happen eventually.”
Sheriff Bell handed out a printout of comparing deputies’ salaries with other law enforcement agencies in the Northeast Arkansas area and asked Justices to consider raising the Randolph County deputies comparable to those. The average pay for surrounding counties is arond $30,000.
“As we go into the budget process I want to present you with a proposal for deputies pay,” he said. “The current deputy pay scale makes it difficult to attract, hire and retain certified officers. As soon as a deputy is trained they start looking for higher paying jobs. The first full year of a deputy’s employment is almost entirely invested in training. The county gets very little in return until the training is complete.”
He asked the Justices to raise the base deputy salary to $28,000 retroactive to include all current deputies. This will help make us more competitive with our surrounding agencies and reduce the amount of time spent training new deputies. This will in turn make us a more effective department and better serve the citizens of Randolph County.”
He also wants to make the bailiff a permanent full time position.
Justices discussed the status of the old nursing home. “We don’t need to keep carrying the building,” a Justice remarked.
However Judge Jansen said the county does not pay any of the bills at the old nursing home.
“In fact back in the beginning of the virus volunteers went through two wings and got it ready for use as an emergency coronavirus hospital, if needed,” Jansen said. “We’re at the point where we might need that. The state would run it. Volunteers made repairs, the nursing home certified the oxygen in case we did have to use it.
“The bottom line is it is county property and has to have your blessing to sell it. However, they may have the authority to sell it without our permission. In the ordinance that was adopted to run the nursing home, their board has full authority to do anything they want to do in the nursing home except extend the credit of the county. They have agreed the court must approve it.”
Regarding the 2021 budget Jansen said insurance bids were out to three different agencies
“All elected officials are doing a great job getting their expected expenses through the rest of the year plus already have their budgets turned in for next year,” Jansen said. “So basically what we’re waiting on to get into the meat of the budget is insurance. I talked to carrier today that we have had for 3 years and it has been sent out to all the major companies. Have to wait to see all the claims as close as we can to the end of the year. And our claims are high. Insurance claims are going to be higher that what we paid in. You know how that works. I looked at 3rd quarter claims and they were right there with what we’re going to pay in and we’ve got several high dollar sick people and I’m one of them. The good news on that is I won’t be on the insurance next year because I’ve got my red white and blue card – my Medicare card. I’m going to come off and that will help.”
A budget meeting is planed before thanksgiving and whatever the committee decides will be presented to the full Quorum Court.
“Hard decisions we have to look at in this budget,” he said. “The Cares Act going to help us out.“
Jansen explained that the county filed claims with FEMA earlier and then the CARES act was passed. Not too long ago the state decided to divide up some federal dollars from the Cares Act for all the counties
“We were entitled if we can prove we spent that money.,” he said. “We have applied for that from DF&A and it’s been sent off. Not sure when it will be but could be pretty quick. The funds will go into County General and will help with the budget. Its 600,000 plus we got money coming from FEMA. We will have to spend a little money if the state stops on PPEs. They’ve got stockpiles of PPEs. This thing isn’t going away for a while
Jansen said the Detention Center review was good. “They did this by video conference and were complimentary about the new jail addition. We were out of compliance on number of personnel, but Sheriff Bell said he had gotten their input of how many employees he can have.
Justices also passed an ordinance Levy of Taxes and approved the purchase of a server computer for the Assessors office.