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Independence County Quorum Court addresses roads, volunteer fire department paperwork

Article by Emily Wang, White River Now

The Independence County Quorum Court convened on Monday to discuss several issues, including road updates, inconsistent fire department paperwork, and a flood plain ordinance.


Independence County Judge Kevin Jeffery noted the replacement of several culverts as part of ongoing roadwork. He also highlighted the county’s proactive measures to prepare for potential storm damage, particularly in light of the recent storms produced by Hurricane Beryl.

Fire department paperwork

Concerns were raised about some volunteer fire departments across the county needing to submit required financial report paperwork. Imposing a deadline was stressed, with the suggestion of a 60-day period for compliance and the possibility of withholding county payments as a consequence of non-compliance.

“This will put a little teeth in the deal and pressure departments to submit their paperwork,” one member said.

The conversation stemmed from concern over some fire departments failing to submit their financial reports within 60 days of the end of their financial year. The fire departments receive two “strictly county” fundings. They have each received a portion (12% divided equally among all departments) of the county’s 1-cent sales tax since the tax was approved in 1982. Though there are no reporting requirements for this funding source, the additional sales tax dedicated solely to the fire departments, that was approved by voters in 2012, is what is backed by an ordinance passed by the quorum court requiring them to submit their yearly financial report.

“They are supposed to file with me,” said County Clerk Tracey Mitchell. “Some file very detailed reports. Some don’t file at all. Some file very simple reports.”

Some questioned the need to change the distribution of the percentage the volunteer fire departments receive from the one-cent countywide sales tax, noting the current system has worked well since 1982. Other quorum court members supported the need for flexibility in distribution percentages to address future needs and unforeseen events.

The court decided to table the discussion and referred it to the budget committee for further review.

In the meantime, at Jeffery’s suggestion, a motion was made and approved to send a letter to all fire departments informing and reminding them of the requirement to submit their financial reports to the county clerk.

Approved ordinance

A flood plain ordinance was approved to clarify the required minimum elevation for the lowest level of structures. It stipulates that this elevation must be at least 3 feet above the Base Flood Elevation (BFE). This amendment reinforces and clarifies the minimum elevation in a flood plain scenario.

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