Quorum Court, Election Commissioners hash out 2020 budget
Justices, county officials agree on funding for next year
While being somewhat amicable with a couple of Crittenden County department heads over their proposed 2020 budgets, Quorum Court Justice Vickie Robertson remained a thorn in the side to Frank Barton, commissioner on the Republican-led county Election Commission Thursday, arguing over his proposed budget for contract help necessary to oversee next year’s primary and general elections as well as possible run-off elections.
Barton and Election Commission Chairman Dixie Carlson were last to review their next year’s budgets with justices Thursday.
Barton began by saying the commission’s budget is $4,100 more than what was approved in 2018 when there were primary and general elections.
It was at that point Robertson pinpointed the projected $3,600 appropriation for contract help when actual expenditures two years ago was $2,536, and questioned the necessity of increasing that amount for next year.
“I want actual costs and not projected costs because we are getting away from projections,” Robertson informed Barton.
Robertson went on to say, “You have the same polling places last year for the general and primary elections,” QUORUM COURT
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questioning them why the need for additional funds for contract labor.
It was obvious Robertson was making an issue out of the line item expense and Barton responded by saying the commissions pays contract labor on a per hour rate rather than a set amount, which means that it is hard to predict the exact labor costs.
Clearly frustrated, Barton suggested justices simply approve $33,000 compromise budget that was approved two years ago and said, “let’s just leave it at that.”
Judge Woody Wheeless then suggested approving the $33,000 with the option for the commission to be able to return if additional funds are needed.
Barton told Wheeless contract help expenses run between $4,000 and $4,500 for every election.
What was finally agreed upon at the recommendation of Wheeless was appropriating $33,000 and an additional $4,000 for any special elections that may occur net year, thus preventing the commission from having to keep coming back begging for additional operating funds.
Prior to the election commission budget review, justices approved hiring an Information Technician to handle the county’s extensive computer systems, which include the Sheriff’s Office, courthouse and all other county offices.
County Treasurer Matt Thompson said the estimated annual salary range over $60,000 plus benefits.
The reason for the hire is that the private IT provider, Computer Factory, is closing. Wheeless said the actual cost to the county will be far less in that the City of Marion, which also contracts with Computer Factory, is willing to partner with the county and has agreed to pay one third of the cost.
Justices also agreed to standardize the county’s clothing allowance for designated non-uniformed employees at $400. Previously the amount varied from between $400 and