Judge Griffin talks county furloughs; Sheriff Stephens makes adjustments


Independence County Judge Robert Griffin says he has made a recommendation to curtail the effects of the economic shutdown and the sheriff’s department has already responded.

In the statement today, the judge said he suggested to elected county officials and department heads to do a targeted furlough of some employees in order to make expenditures match the anticipated revenue.

Griffin said anticipated revenue has been scaled back due to the loss of sales taxes, court fines, state turnback funding, and more. He also noted the road department is experiencing a decline in road fuel taxes, which helps fund that segment of county services. The judge said the road department, which he is over, will be hit much greater than others.

The judge said two options to bring expenditures down are for either elected officials and department heads to make personnel costs, or for the quorum court to make those cuts.

It should be noted that personnel cuts offer an area where there are plenty of expenditures, especially when benefits are considered.

Griffin said doing the payroll cuts while the weekly pandemic unemployment check of $600 is still available will actually help all employees. He said to wait will cost the county so much more because, at that time, any unemployment benefits paid out would have to be reimbursed by the county. The judge also noted if payroll cuts occur now, it will certainly lower any additional adjustments that may need to be made.

And in a release today from Independence County Sherriff Shawn Stephens, the sheriff noted his department quickly made adjustments.

With the furloughs, the sheriff said patrols will now be covered by patrol deputies, investigators, warrants/civil process officers, and administration. Stephens said, in that way, protection will remain normal.

The sheriff said there are other operations in the office that will be affected, such as walk-in reports, warrants, civil process, non-emergency investigations, and VIN verifications. He added that telephone calls to the office will be answered or callbacks will be made.

Stephens said citizens who have a need to speak to a deputy can contact dispatch at (870) 698-2436.

Inquiries can also be made by sending an email to contact@independencesheriff.org.

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