Quorum Court adopts 2018 budget

Updated: November 17, 2017

By Quinton Bagley

Little River News

The Little River County Quorum Court held its monthly meeting Monday in the conference room in the Little River County Courthouse Annex building.

Before the start of the meeting, Little River County Judge Mike Cranford presented a grant check totaling $4,625 to Jim Stanton of the Greater Yarbrough Association. The money will be used to install an air conditioner in the Yarbrough Community Building.

After the meeting was called to order and the JPs approved the minutes of the last meeting as well as the financial statement, Cranford introduced Sterling Penix of the Arkansas Criminal Detention Facilities Review Committee.

The Criminal Detention Facilities Review Committees are charged by law with the duties of annually inspecting jails that house city and county prisoners to ensure that the facilities comply with State mandated minimum standards.

Penix told the Court that the Little River County Jail has a capacity of 24 inmates and currently houses 26. He also told the Court that the county has 25 inmates held outside the county in other facilities.

Penix stated that from January to October of this year the county had spent $132,000 to house prisoners outside of the county.

“You have outgrown your current facility,” Penix told the Court. “What is the next best step economically for the county? You either need to reduce the population or increase space.”

Penix said the county has until December 2019 to look at and come up with other options. He suggested the creation of a jail work group consisting of the county judge, sheriff, prosecuting attorney, public defender, circuit judge and municipal leaders to consider other options.

One possible solution is reconstructing the current facility with more space for inmates once the sheriff’s office and dispatch moves into the old Guaranty Insurance building. Cranford said that while that is a good long-term solution there was still a great deal of work to be done before the sheriff’s office could be relocated.

In other business, the Court adopted three ordinances.

The first, Ordinance No. 0-2017-13, was an appropriation ordinance transferring money from one account to another. The ordinance passed unanimously.

The second, Ordinance No. 0-2017-14, “approved the levy of taxes and special tax assessments for the year 2017 to be collected in 2018, as provided by law.” Again, the ordinance passed unanimously.

The third ordinance, Ordinance No. 0-2017-15, was “an ordinance to establish the annual operating budget for the calendar year 2018.” The ordinance was read the first time, followed by the rules being suspended and being read two more times by title only. The Court voted by roll call after each reading. JPs Phillip Penny, Bobby Furlow, Gene Smithson, Chuck Davis, Keith Pullen, Charles Henderson and Larry Cowling voted yes all three times while JPs Al Austin and Billy Bob Pounds voted no all three times.

Some areas of the budget saw an increase from 2017 while others saw a decrease. County general fund increased from $2,368,624.22 in 2017 to $2,913,243.94 in 2018.

Following the adoption of the ordinances, Cranford gave his monthly report to the Court. Cranford stated that striping is being scheduled for LR 37 (Jack’s Isle Rd.), LR 70 (East Ogden Rd.) and LR 29 (Hicks Rd.)

Cranford reported that since the budget for the next year had been passed, a strategic plan to repair or replace some bridges and culverts in the county would be developed.

Cranford also announced that the annual lighting of the courthouse would be held at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 22.

With no further business before the Court, the meeting was adjourned.