Elumbaugh signs interlocal agreement with county

Article for White River Now by Madeline Pyle

At its Tuesday’s meeting, the Batesville City Council approved Mayor Rick Elumbaugh to sign the interlocal agreement between the city and county regarding funding for the Independence County District Court.

Before signing the agreement, Elumbaugh explained that the county had determined the agreement discussed last month was “premature,” but upon further review by the county’s counsel and City Attorney Tim Meitzen, both parties were ready to go forward.

“We have a very good proposal right here,” Elumbaugh said. “Adults can get things worked out. You have very qualified Quorum Court members as well as I do City Council members.”

This agreement could conclude the conflict between the two parties dating back to 2017 over which entity was financially responsible for the district court. This agreement states that the county and city will split in half the costs and revenue of the district court.

Alderman Douglas Matthews requested that the council be able to see exact dollar amounts before moving forward with the agreement, and Metizen stated that since both parties have “co-equal oversight,” the budget will be available to both parties for review.

In other business, Elumbaugh discussed Issue 1 in the upcoming November election. He emphasized the “importance of its passage,” explaining that the county would lose $400,426 if it did not pass.

Issue 1 is one of three proposed changes to the Arkansas Constitution on the November ballot. The half-cent sales tax that provides revenue for the state’s infrastructure — namely the roadways — would no longer be collected as of 2023. Issue 1 would permanently extend the tax, bringing in millions of dollars in road revenue.

Vaness Adams of the Independence County Library spoke to the council about the library’s services during the COVID-19 pandemic and presented a resolution recognizing and commending the council and Elumbaugh for their partnership with the library.

The council also voted to keep the levy of taxes the same for 2021.

After returning from executive session, the council voted to appoint Greg Byler to the Tree Board and to appoint Ronnie Hampton to the Appeals Board.

Batesville Chamber of Commerce CEO Crystal Johnson was unable to attend the meeting, so the council rescheduled the advertising and promotion report for next month’s meeting.

In his Mayor’s comments, Elumbaugh stated that the council will meet Nov. 10 at Batesville City Hall. He said the council will practice social distancing, and he encouraged others to still wear their masks.

“The pandemic has not gone away,” he said. “It’s getting a bit too close to home…Everybody be mindful of that.”

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