Bob Qualls shares this report from last night’s Independence County Budget Committee:
The Independence County Budget Committee began its meeting Thursday with an almost $51,000 shortfall. When it adjourned about 30 minutes later, the budget was $54.14 cents to the good.
The Budget Committee had previously told all county offices and departments to cut their county general budget proposals by 3.6 percent.
Sheriff Shawn Stephens said he could cut one position from the jail budget, but that was all he could cut. He said that position amounts to about $35,700. That still left a shortfall of $15,000. All other county departments had reduced their budget requests by 3.6 percent.
After a few minutes of discussion, Stephens suggested that money could be transferred from the jail fines fund to county general to wipe out the deficit. He said that fund usually ends the year with a surplus. His proposal would move $51,000 from the projected jail fines fund. However, the sheriff said he would approve the transfer only if he can keep the one position at the jail.
The JPs on the committee were agreeable to that and voted to make that change to the proposed budget that will go before the Independence County Quorum Court Monday.
Circuit Clerk Deborah Finley appeared before the committee to object to the 3.6 percent cut to her office’s budget. She asked if other offices located in the courthouse have to pay for their utility costs. County Treasurer Bob Treadway and County Clerk Tracey Mitchell both said they did. Treadway said he pays his utilities out of his office’s automation budget. Finley, whose office also has an automation fund, said she thought that couldn’t be done legally. Treadway said he’s done it for years and auditors have never questioned it.
Members of the Budget Committee are JPs Ron Lewallen, chair; Jason Jones, Tammy Pearce, Tim Stewart and Brent Henderson.