Justices (eventually) approve election budget
County officials crunch 2020 numbers in Quorum Court
“We don’t scrutinize any other budget like we do the Election Commission,” frustrated Crittenden County Justice Lisa O’Neal blurted out to fellow Justice Vickie Robertson Tuesday as she continued badgering Republican-controlled Election Commissioner Frank Barton over his repeated attempt to have the commission’s revised budget approved for next year.
“Yes, I do,” Robertson BUDGET
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responded loudly, but Robertson has repeatedly questioned the commissions budget requests during previous Quorum Court meetings making it always difficult to get approval of necessary funds to hold at least six special elections this year, pay for routine expenses, computer software upgrades as well as pay hourly poll workers. What Barton was requesting was $39,400 more to cover the cost of the special elections which average about $4,000 each, money he says will be reimbursed as in the case of the Marion special millage election, the West Memphis School Board race as well as the West Memphis millage increase and the upcoming West Memphis bond issue scheduled next month.
None of those elections, Barton told Robertson, were taken into consideration when the original budget was considered last Spring, nor were was the $32,650 cost of computer program upgrades and other expenses.
Robertson continued questioning the difference in what was being sought and the reimbursements that have already been made by West Memphis and Marion.
“What we are asking will be reimbursed so the county won’t be out anything,”
and seconded by Justice O’Neal to approve the appropriation request, which passed.
In other budget matters:
• Justices approved several ordinances, one of which was $664,000 to replace the roof at the Crittenden County Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff Mike Allen said the roof replacement should be completed within the next several days.
The original appropriation was $450,000 but was amended to the higher amount due to cost adjustments.
• Justices also put their final vote of approval to appropriate $47,665 for Christmas bonuses, and put off approving the county’s overall 2020 budget pending review. That vote will take place at the December Quorum Court meeting.
• One last budget matter was an ordinance levying taxes for the county, school districts and municipal corporations for the tax year 2020. The new tax rates will also include the recent millage increases voters approved for the West Memphis and Marion School districts.
At the start of the regular monthly meeting, County Treasurer Matt Thompson updated justices as to the financial health of the county’s general fund and said so far this year revenues are up 1.16 percent over last year and taxes coming in from Southland Casino are well above last year.