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Independence County Quorum Court follow-up: judge requests new 2019 budgetary method; JPs give vote of confidence to tax collector; more…

At Monday night’s meeting of the Independence County Quorum Court, County Judge Robert Griffin asked the justices of the peace (JPs) to try a new method of budgeting for 2019.

The JPs agreed to try the suggested “ABC Category” budgeting method similar to the Arkansas Revenue Stabilization Act enacted by the General Assembly.

The Revenue Stabilization Act categorizes and prioritizes spending for state government by dividing the budget into three categories: A, B, and C. Likewise, the county budget would be similarly devised.

The first category would be funded by steady revenues, the second would be funded by the previous year’s excess revenues, and the third funded by things such as grants. This third category would only be used if funding is received.

Using Griffin’s method, each officeholder would know how much money they are allotted for each category before submitting their budget proposal.

Category A includes things that must be funded. Category B would be used for funding one-time expenditures, such as purchasing equipment. Category C would be a “wish list” of goals that may or may not be reached.

The court approved trying the method for the 2019 budget to see how well it works before making a permanent change.

In other action, the court approved an interlocal agreement with Pleasant Plains for solid waste disposal.

It also approved an agreement with BancorpSouth Equipment Finance to lease-purchase three 2019 Mack dump trucks for $438,000. Purchase of the trucks had been approved in a previous meeting.

The justices also passed a resolution supporting FutureFuel Chemical Company’s participation in the state’s tax-back program. The company seeks benefits under the program for new construction. The Batesville City Council also endorsed FutureFuel’s participation at its meeting Tuesday.

On another matter, outgoing County Tax Collector Diana Thompson appeared before the quorum court with two requests.

After the theft of an undisclosed amount of money from the Circuit Clerk’s Office, Thompson said two county employees “broke into her office” to retrieve security camera footage that might help in the investigation of the theft. She was told that the information could not be retrieved from the camera.

Thompson said she was so angry about the breaking and entering that she “almost called the Arkansas State Police to have the two employees arrested.” After her anger subsided, she decided not to call the State Police. She did not identify the two employees.

She said the supervisors of the two employees had promised her they would punish them for their actions. Thompson requested that these supervisors provide her with statements confirming and explaining the punishment meted out. She also asked the quorum court not to lose trust in her over the incident.

The collector explained that she installed the security cameras after employees in her office had been threatened with violence.

Thompson is retiring at the end of December after 22 years of service to the county.

Paul Albert, deputy tax collector, is running unopposed for the collector’s job in the November election.

JP Brent Henderson made a motion for a vote of confidence for Thompson and the court approved it unanimously.

Reporting by Bob Qualls

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