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In letter to county attorney, Taylor details decision on district court funding

As the rift between the Independence County District Court of Judge Chaney Taylor and County Judge Robert Griffin all but ended Thursday when Taylor said funds diverted to the City of Batesville and all future district court funds would go to the county, Taylor did have more to say about the funding issue in a May 13 letter he wrote to County Attorney Daniel Haney.

When Taylor originally diverted the funds, Griffin proposed a county ordinance cutting the district court’s budget by an annual total of $165,000 — a cut that would have caused real problems in the operation of the Independence County District Court as well as the loss of jobs. After Taylor’s move on Thursday, Griffin said he would pull the ordinance from the upcoming quorum court meeting to be held May 17.

But, Judge Taylor had more to say in his letter to Haney than just making the concessions he did. (It was Haney’s interpretation of state law that prompted the conflict between Taylor and Griffin after the district court planned to fill an open clerk position.)

Taylor’s letter noted in exchange for the district court to send all funds to the county, Griffin would pull his proposed ordinance to cut the district court’s budget by approximately $165,000 — and that no such proposal to reduce the district court’s 2021 budget will be made again.

Taylor also said he could not acknowledge anything on behalf of the City of Batesville as he noted Haney’s letter, also dated May 13, announcing Taylor’s decision implied. Taylor said that would be a role for the Batesville mayor, city council, or city attorney.

In Taylor’s letter, he noted his court disburses funds according to state law governing district court accounting practices, and that not only has the Independence County District Court complied with such laws for the 16 years he has served as district judge, it will also continue to so.

Judge Taylor also added that he does not acknowledge a shortfall in the district court budget would occur in the event the City of Batesville receives revenue from costs and fines. The judge said so far this year, his court has distributed just over $154,000 in county fine/cost revenue along with $73,000 in costs and fines from the city. In consideration of those revenues and the 2021 district court budget, Taylor said there should not be a shortfall.

Finally, Judge Taylor noted in his letter that it’s his sincere hope the Batesville City Council and the Independence County Quorum Court can sit down at the negotiating table, discuss the situation, and reach a resolution that is in the best interest of the citizenry.

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