Cleburne County Quorum Court met for its October meeting last Thursday

The Cleburne County Quorum Court met for its October meeting last Thursday and focused primarily on appropriating grants for local organizations and discussing a new payroll structure for county employees. 

Justices of the Peace spoke briefly with Sheriff Alan Roberson on the continuing jail review process and ongoing repairs to correct deficiencies identified by the state review board and federal inspectors. In their findings, they determined the county's needs have outgrown the ability of the jail to adequately serve those needs. The County has been tasked with creating an action plan to bring the jail into compliance. 

In other Court news, JPs appropriated a $350,000 grant given to Mountain Top Water System by the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission. The purpose of the grant is to extend the water system into areas not currently served. JP Sam Henegar (R-District 2) raised an issue of concern about the possible use of imminent domain and whether this was for the purchase of land. He was informed that the money wouldn't be used to purchase land, but rather for easements and, in the past, when there has been a landowner unwilling to grant an easement, the water line has usually been moved closer to a road where the county already has an existing easement. The appropriation of the grant passed unanimously. 

During a recent legislative audit, it was discovered that some county elected officials who took their office after the year began had not received their full pay as a result of how the county structures its pay dates. Those affected were Cleburne County Clerk Paul Muse (who was appointed after the resignation of Dana Guffey), Sheriff Alan Roberson (who was appointed after the passing of Sheriff Richard Swain), and Bryon Rushing (who served as interim sheriff for a month after Swain's passing). According to the county's current pay structure, employees are paid 26 times a year. In order to avoid a gap in the final pay period of the year, the county has paid the first week of the year and the last week of the year on the first paycheck in January. Auditors said the practice wasn't illegal, but it could create issues if an employee doesn't work the full year, as happened with the officials named above. JPs debated changes to payroll and possible solutions, with most seeming to lean towards allowing the pay gap in January, in which employees may not receive their first check of the year until the third week of January. The body decided they would have discussions and any new changes would be made in 2017 and county employees would be given advance notice in November or December. The ordinance to pay the officials who were shorted in the payroll passed unanimously. 

The Court unanimously passed an ordinance to reimburse Breakin' Bread for half the cost two HVAC units that were needed in the building they lease from the county. The also voted to appropriate money granted to the Floral Fire Department from the Arkansas Economic Development Rural Services Division and appropriated money to pay for repairs on equipment at the landfill. 

The next meeting of the Cleburne County Quorum Court will be November 17, 6 p.m., at the Cleburne County Court Building (922 South 9th St) in Heber Springs.