QC Handles Light Agenda, Passes Ordinance

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Justices handled a light agenda at Monday night's regular meeting of the Clay County Quorum Court, held at the courthouse in Piggott. During the gathering the JPs approved an ordinance which amended funds, and the 2016 budgets. Judge Mike Patterson also provided court members with an update, and a review of recent efforts within the county.

With Justices Mike Hill and David Cagle absent from the gathering, the meeting was called to order by Patterson. After dispensing with the usual consent agenda items, the justices turned their attention to Ordinance 2017-03.

The ordinance offered the annual "clean-up" of appropriated funds and amended the 2016 budgets for each department accordingly. It shifted funds in the budgets of all the elected officials, along with county general; election commission; county health; circuit, district and juvenile court; OES; Chalk Bluff; Veterans Affairs and the Extension Office.

Following a brief discussion the ordinance was placed on all three readings, title only, and approved on a voice vote 7-0. Afterward, the accompanying emergency clause was also approved without dissent.

Patterson then offered his update to the court members, as he gave them an overview of county operations. "We've got a good crew, I've been tickled to death at how hard they work," he said of the county employees under his charge.

Judge Patterson reported to the court members that a recent review of insurance premiums has offered the chance for a substantial savings. He indicated the county's fleet insurance on vehicles has been acquired through Traveler's Insurance for the past several years, but a new option has been found.

"The Association of Arkansas Counties has formed a type of cooperative and they're offering fleet insurance to the counties in the state," he offered. "Based on what I've seen, there would be a sizeable savings if we make the change. I'm all for doing business in Clay County if we can, but if we can save the county taxpayers money we need to look into it."

Patterson noted the AAC plan would cost less than half of the current policy costs, and would have a lower deductible. He indicated to the justices that he would approach the local underwriter and offer them the chance to try to meet the lower rate, and would report on the matter at the April meeting.

The judge also reported on a tour he gave officials with the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, as they inspected several bridges in the county. He noted the bridge on CR 502, south of Rector, was earmarked for replacement, and will likely qualify for state funding. He also noted the bridge on CR 508, north of the location, could also be included.

"It's a slow process, could take a year or more, but we should be able to get the state funding and I'll be going to Little Rock soon to get the project underway," he explained. "We're also trying to get state assistance on some other bridges in the county, including one in the Knobel area and a couple around Knob--near the county line."

Patterson noted the budget for the road department is about the same as last year, and added that he is looking for other revenue opportunities in order to address the needs of the county.

"We've also been out putting some chat on bad spots on several of the county roads," he added. "But, we plan to cut back on that and start putting down gravel--if we can find a good source. If anybody knows of a good source of local quality gravel I wish they'd get in touch with me."

The judge indicated Peco Foods had donated some $62,000 in chat to the county, and that much of it would be used for improvements to the roads leading to their facilities.

"We'll be putting chat down on the road that leads in to the facility north of Corning from the north, and CR 181, the road which turns north just east of the Black River bridge off Highway 62," he added.

Patterson also noted improvements will be made to the roads leading to a complex of chicken houses being constructed west of Boydsville.

Sheriff Terry Miller also updated the court, indicating he was pursuing a variety of grants and other funding.

"We're looking into new cameras for both courthouses, and increased security measures," he offered. "There are grant funds available for new locks and a security system, plus we hope to get updated metal detectors for both courthouses."

On the other hand, Miller noted the USDA grants won't be announced until October, forcing him to proceed with purchasing vehicles for his department.

"We need to go ahead and get vehicles now, so I'm looking at a lease/purchase agreement with Ford and GM," he explained. "Currently, we have the funds on hand to take care of the payments for the next two years going that route."

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