QC Approves HUD Resolutions, Updated on Finances at Meeting

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Resolutions pertaining to the rental rates for HUD housing in the county were approved at Monday night's regular meeting of the Clay County Quorum Court, held at the courthouse in Corning. The justices also heard from members of the Corning Fire Department on coverage issues in the western part of the county, approved a contract with the Piggott School District to provide an SRO and reviewed county finances. Afterward, the JPs conducted a grievance hearing for a former employee, which was closed to the public and media.

With all members in attendance the meeting was called to order by Judge Mike Patterson. After dispensing with the usual consent agenda items, the court turned its attention to a pair of resolutions dealing with HUD housing rental rates in the county.

The first was Resolution 2018-04, which established the rates for calendar 2017. Those payment standards called for rental rates of $457 for an apartment with no bedroom, $460 for one bedroom, $611 for two bedrooms, $867 for three bedrooms and $870 for a four-bedroom unit.

The resolution passed on a vote of 9-0.

Next, the court considered Resolution 2018-05, which increases the rental rates for the calendar year of 2018. Under those rates a unit with no bedroom would rent for $473, a one bedroom for $476, two bedroom for $633, three bedroom for $894 and four bedroom unit for $922 a month.

This resolution was also approved without dissent, allowing the new rate structure to go into effect.

“There is money available through HUD here in the county,” Patterson informed the court. “If you know of someone wanting to rent, or a landlord with property, they should get in touch with the Clay County Housing Authority office. There are funds available if you know of anybody who might qualify.”

Patterson also reported he had been contacted by one of the local drainage districts requesting that his name be added to no trespassing signs being placed on levees. This prompted a brief discussion about the use of the levees, which has become a problem the past few years.

“We need for people to understand that they're not places to play,” Patterson offered. “We could install gates along them, but then we'd have to provide keys to everyone involved. Bottom line, there are some places that people can go, but there are other places they need to stay out of.”

Following the discussion the court members offered no objection concerning the signs.

In addressing a need which had been discussed earlier this year, Patterson asked the court members to approve the appointment of Rector realtor Steve Sigsby to the Equalization Board.

“We need to get this taken care of, they've got a full schedule of appointments next week,” he explained.

Sigsby's appointment was then approved on a unanimous vote.

The justices also heard from several members of the Corning Fire Department, with Jason Grubbs serving as the spokesman. He indicated the Corning department has been picking up the slack for several of the smaller departments in the western district, most notably Success and Knobel.

“They are down to just a few men, and most of the time no one responds when they are dispatched out to a fire,” he explained. “When that happens they dispatch us.”

He noted several of the smaller departments have had a hard time maintaining manpower numbers, which in turn has caused them to lose their state funding.

“You have to have a certain number of men go through the training every year in order to get the state funds,” Judge Patterson explained. “It's just sitting there in Little Rock, and if I can do anything about shifting that money around I will.”

A former firefighter himself, Patterson empathized with the Corning personnel and indicated he would look into the matter as soon as possible.

“There's a lot of danger to the public when we have to respond from Corning to a fire in Success, or Knobel or Peach Orchard,” Grubbs offered. “If we're going to have to cover all that area maybe we should become the Western District Fire Department.”

Patterson indicated he would reach-out to officials in Little Rock, and would meet with the mayors of the smaller communities involved in the issue.

“There's no reason why the City of Corning should foot the bill,” he added.

The justices also discussed the impact the changes might have on the smaller town's fire rating, and noted the assets which are not being used—such as buildings and fire trucks, should be utilized.

Justice David Cagle also reported on the county's finances, noting the County General was in the red to the tune of some $265,000.

“And, we've got payroll coming up, so that means we'll be about $370,000 in the red,” he explained. “We've still got the maximum put-aside in CDs, but we don't need to do any unnecessary spending that's for sure.”

Cagle noted revenue was down this year across the board, including funds generated by probation and district court costs and fines. He observed that the county was only about $160,000 in the red at the same point last year.

Sheriff Terry Miller presented a contract with the Piggott School District for providing an SRO (School Resource Officer) for their two campuses. He noted the school district would be invoiced for the full amount of the officer's pay and benefits, which totals about $42,000 a year.

“He will be attending home football games and other sporting events, will be working at both campuses during the school day and will be attending their school board meetings,” Miller said of the agreement.

Answering questions from the court members, Miller indicated Piggott is the only district in the county to utilize an SRO. He noted the Rector School Board had discussed the matter, but had not taken any action. As for the Corning School District, they've had an SRO the past several years but decided to end the program with the start of this new school year.

Following the discussion, the JPs agreed to allow the sheriff's department to enter into the contract with the Piggott district on a vote of 9-0.

Late in the meeting the court members voted to adjourn, then re-convened for a grievance hearing for a former employee of the sheriff's department.

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