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Arkadelphia, Ark. –

If enough tax revenues are available, the Clark County Budget and Finance Committee may approve Sheriff David Turner’s request for $215,000 more than what was appropriated for his total budget last year. Turner said he is requesting more for 2010 so that he will not have to go before the committee next year. The committee has, for two years in a row, convened with the sheriff in the fourth quarter to discuss over-budgeting.

The committee held a lengthy meeting Wednesday in the courthouse to discuss the initial budgets for district court, 911 coordinator’s office, circuit court, assessor’s office, prosecutor’s office, sheriff’s office and a request from Southern Bancorp.

Department heads, for the most part, requested no additional funding for 2010. District Judge Randy Hill cut his budget by $800, and Circuit Judge Robert McCallum requested a budget “the same as last year’s.” While County Prosecutor Blake Batson requested no additional money for 2010 since his budget “routinely carries over,” he did request $22,500 for the hiring of a new victim witness position, which the committee tentatively approved.

Shelley Loe spoke to the committee about Southern Bancorp’s request for $15,000 to fund one year’s operation of the Diamond Lakes Regional Visitor Center in Caddo Valley. Southern Bancorp has asked for and received a “verbal commitment” from the cities of Arkadelphia ($15,000) and Caddo Valley ($5,000), as well as from the Caddo Valley Advertising and Promotion Commission ($5,000). While officials in Gurdon and Amity could not allow for the funding, Southern Bancorp is expected to submit grants through the Cabe Foundation and Olds Foundation, respectively, for $5,000 from each city.

The total $50,000, if it is given to Southern Bancorp, will fund one y ear of operating the visitor center, in the old Elk Horn Bank branch in Caddo Valley. The center will “exist to give our community the opportunity to serve as ambassadors for the city, county and state of Arkansas to tourists” traveling through the area and would be open seven days a week. In addition to the promotion of local businesses and industries, it would also promote Henderson State and Ouachita Baptist universities.

The building, owned by Southern Bancorp, has been leased to the Arkadelphia Regional Economic Development Alliance for $1 per year. Loe asked for a three-year commitment; but committee member Francis McGill noted that the county can only budget for one year.

Some issues raised were Southern Bancorp writing a contract that would note what the center would do for Clark County, and whether or not the universities would “chip in” to fund the center — since they, too, would be promoted.

Without much question, the committee tentatively approved each request. Before the measure can be suggested for the Quorum Court’s approval, however, the committee must determine if there will be enough projected revenue for each request.

County Judge Ron Daniell could not provide an estimate for the total of how much money is being requested for the county’s 2010 budget. Reshea Owens, administrative assistant, has yet to figure the total requests, Daniell said Thursday morning.

The sheriff’s budget
After recessing for lunch, the committee heard from Turner. He requested $81,890 more for the sheriff’s budget. Committee members questioned most line items that had an increase or decrease from the 2009 budget. He cut $21,938 from full-time salaries. He requested $3,120 more for clothing because jailers have to “suit out new people” and “lots of times (prisoners) need a different size.”
Budgeting fuel at $3.50 per gallon, he requested $21,000 less for 2010. He budgeted fuel at $4.50 per gallon last year. He also requested $10,000 less for service contracts, as he said jail staff has taken on routine maintenance on the heating and air system at the jail. The company that was contracted, he said, was charging for maintenance when all the workers did was change the filters.

On the miscellaneous law enforcement line item, Turner requested $113,572 more. Mac Neel asked what “miscellaneous law enforcement” is. Turner said the line item is used for ankle bracelets and housing prisoners in other jails. The sheriff is $21,520 in the red now on the line item, and there are four months left for expenditures to accumulate on the line item. When asked how many prisoners are currently in other jails, Turner said there are eight prisoners, and added that half of the jail’s population is awaiting the Arkansas Department of Correction to pick them up. Any reimbursement from ADC (for prisoners who have been waiting longer than 21 days) goes directly into the county’s general fund.

Turner requested $2,900 less for machinery and equipment, and $6,000 more for the vehicles line item. Turner said he plans to purchase three more cars in 2010, and he has some patrol units and vehicles to auction. The total request for the vehicles line item for 2010 is $69,000.
In 2009, Turner requested a total of $1,113,290 for his budget. For 2010, he is requesting $1,195,180.

The jail’s budget
He requested $122,289 more for the jail’s budget. Turner also proposed cutting the jail’s full-time salary budget by $14,393, while increasing part-time salary budget by $25,712. The increase in part-time salaries cover the two positions responsible for cleaning, dishwashing and transporting prisoners’ meals to and from the fairgrounds kitchen. Turner said one part-time employee is accompanied by a trustee to help with the kitchen duties. The contract with Tiger Foods calls for four trustees and one supervising deputy.

Turner requested $3,600 less for janitorial supplies and $3,600 more for chemicals and cleaning, which is currently $1,525 over budget.

Line items “Medicine and Drugs” and “Medical, Dental and Hospital” was a topic of discussion for Turner and the committee. Requesting $41,000 more for Medicine and Drugs (while the item is currently $13,860 over budget), McGill said, “drugs, medical and doctor (bills) is breaking the county.” Turner echoed her comment, saying, “The jail and inmates are breaking the county.” Turner requested $64,700 more for Medical, Dental and Hospital (which is currently $19,596 over budget). Daniell said, “It has come down to (deciding whether to) giving employees raises or to giving the jailbirds medicine.”

In 2009, Turner requested a total of $667,577 for the jail’s budget. For 2010, he is requesting $789,866.

Prisoner food budget
He requested $10,868 more for the prisoner food budget. Averaging 156 meals per day at $1.94 per meal for 365 days, Turner figured a total of $110,868. In 2009, he requested a total of $100,000 for the prisoner food budget. For 2010, he is requesting $110,868.

And one last thing …
The state has mandated that each sheriff’s office purchase a new alcohol testing device, or breathalyzer. Because it is state mandated, the county will legally have to budget for the purchase of the $7,930 machine.

Committee members voted in favor of each request, which may or may not be approved at a later meeting. The committee will meet again Monday at 9:30 a.m. in the Conference Room of the courthouse to review the county’s general budget.

Chaired by Daniell, committee members are Neel, McGill, Albert Neal and Brown Hardman.