QC Approves Budget at December Meeting
Members of the Clay County Quorum Court met in regular session Monday evening at the road department shed in Corning. Prior to the regular gathering, the JPs and Judge Mike Patterson held their annual potluck Christmas dinner, which included several elected officials and spouses. With the exception of Justice John Mansker, all of the JPs were present.
In opening the meeting, Patterson welcomed those in attendance with a brief review of his first year in office. “It has been an interesting year, I've learned and lot, and I've got more to learn,” he surmised.
After dispensing with the usual consent agenda items, the court members turned their attention to Ordinance 2017-19, which appropriated funds and amended the 2017 budget.
The ordinance appropriated the $71,850 from a loan secured by the sheriff's department for the purchase of vehicles received in October; appropriated $550 received in donations for the Clay County Emergency Task Force; and a $201 reimbursement from Revalue Tech, LLC, for the sheriff's old phone. The measure also amended the 2017 budgets accordingly, applying the funds to the election department, sheriff's department, county coroner and the task force donation fund.
The ordinance was placed on its first reading, title only, and given the green light on a vote of 8-0. The court then voted to waive the stipulation it be read on three separate occasions, and approved it on a roll call vote without dissent. They also approved the accompanying emergency clause, allowing the measure to immediately take effect following passage.
The court members then turned their attention to Ordinance 2017-20, which establishes the annual operating budget for calendar year 2018. Once again, the ordinance was introduced, title only, and approved for passage. The justices then waived the stipulation it be read on three separate occasions, and voted to approve the budget, and the accompanying emergency clause.
The complete budget ordinance may be found on page 11 of this edition.
Afterward, Patterson reported he was signing a proclamation designating Clay County as a Purple Heart Community. “Unless any of you have any issue with it, we'll be signing the proclamation and looking into getting the signs that designate us as Purple Heart Community,” he offered. “I think its a great thing, and a great way to show support for our veterans.”
Justice David Cagle also requested a meeting in the near future of the personnel policy committee, noting “we have some issues to review.” He indicated it was not urgent, but noted a meeting in January would suffice.
“We did complete the purchase of the property adjacent to the shed here,” Patterson reported. “They have 60 days to vacate, but I think they'll be out of there sooner.”
Judge Patterson also indicated to the court members he felt the newly acquired property adjacent to the western district shop, and the property on which the eastern district shop sits, should be surveyed.
“Before we start doing a lot of cleaning up and putting up fences we need to know exactly where the property lines are,” he offered. “It would be a good idea to do it at Piggott too.”
He noted the newly-acquired parcel at Corning would eventually be cleared, as the county intends to tear down the existing buildings on the lot.
The judge also reported on recent road work, noting there had been more gravel and chat hauled recently than usual, which could equate to larger fuel bills for December. He also indicated grant funds will be used for a bridge project between Pollard and McDougal, and on a future project near Rector.
“We're going to have to do something to address Peco Road, it's falling apart,” headed. “I didn't want to have to deal with it soon, but if we don't we're going to have to come in there and dig it all up and start from scratch.”
At issue is the depth of the paving job, which is not standing up to the daily travel of heavy grain trucks. According to County Attorney Mike Trail, this was an issue which was discussed at the time the bid was let, eliminating the possibility of seeking relief from the contractor on the matter.
“We may be able to get some help, we're checking all resources before we have to write a check for the work,” he added. “There may be some help available through (State Rep.) Joe Jett, we'll just have to wait and see. The highway department may be able to give us some help, or some money.”
The court members concurred the situation must be addressed.
Patterson also reported a change in life and health insurance providers to the county, as they have switched from Blue Cross Blue Shield to United Healthcare. He noted there were no deductibles for many in-network visits, and indicated the new plan also includes dental and vision.
The life insurance was also increased from $10,000 to $15,000, with a $30,000 payment for work related—all at a substantially lower monthly rate.
The judge also noted the county is included in a lawsuit filed by the Arkansas Municipal League and the Arkansas County Judge's Association against large pharmaceutical companies over the opioid epidemic.
“I signed Clay County on as part of it at the urging of the municipal league and judge's association,” he explained. “It won't cost us anything, and if there is ever a settlement we'll be a part of it.”