The Cleburne County website and the flood damage in the county from recent rains were topics of main concern at the monthly Quorum Court meeting last Thursday.
JP Chad Evans (R-District 6) sponsored an ordinance to reimburse Jones Design for the hosting and domain costs for the county website.
“The website hasn’t been updated the past two years and as a result the site information is incorrect,” said Evans. The ordinance will pay Jones Design for the hosting and domain name costs incurred the past two years and to contract with them going forward to maintain the website as well as the county’s Facebook page.
“The website can be used to push out the agenda for the monthly QC meetings and to post ordinances that we’ve passed,” Evans further noted.
The ordinance will fund $600 per year for two hours of site maintenance per month for 2017 as well as reimburse Jones Design for the past two years of expenses. The ordinance increased the budget for Advertising and Promotion from $500 to $2,600. The ordinance was unanimously passed.
Evans sponsored a second ordinance appropriating $3,500 into the Local Law Enforcement Block Grant budget. The Sheriff’s Department applied for and received the amount of the grant monies specifically to purchase equipment for the two new officers that were hired to patrol the federal parks around Greers Ferry Lake. The ordinance was passed unanimously.
County Judge Jerry Holmes announced that Leon Nicholson’s three-year term on the Equalization Board had ended and that Nicholson could no longer serve in that capacity. Mayor Jimmy Clark had recommended to Judge Holmes that he appoint Cheryl Shook to fill the board position. Shook has accepted the appointment. Current members of the Equalization Board are Pat McNair, Phil Grace, Phil Manning and Nancy Mormon.
Judge Holmes also announced that FEMA will be in the county on May 18 to survey the damage caused by the recent flooding and to file a disaster claim.
“The southern part of the county just got hammered,” stated Holmes. “I estimated that there’s $2 million plus in damage costs to the county.”
In other county news, the county legislative audit for December 15, 2015 was presented to the Legislative Joint Auditing Committee last Thursday in Little Rock. According to the independent auditor’s report, an adverse opinion was issued because “the financial statements are prepared by the County on the basis of the financial reporting provisions of Arkansas Code 10-4-412, which is a basis of accounting other than accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America.”
The auditor identified an internal control issue that they considered to be a “material weakness” of the county’s accounting practices. The auditor recommended that in the offices of the County Judge and Sheriff that “financial accounting duties in each office be segregated among employees” to safeguard county assets and accounting duties in the “initiating, receipting, depositing, disbursing, and recording of” county business transactions.
The County Judge’s office “remitted fundraiser proceeds of $6,975 to a nonprofit organization without an authorizing contract, in conflict with the ‘“public purpose” doctrine’ as per the Attorney General’s Opinion 91-410 and the Arkansas Constitution, Article 12, Section 5, “which states in part, “No…county…shall…obtain or appropriate money for, or loan its credit to, any corporation, association, institution or individual.”
The second adverse opinion under the County Judge’s office stated that the county “paid $5,576 to a business owned by a County employee and her husband for communication services without an authorizing ordinance, as required by Ark. Code Ann. 14-14-1202.”
The adverse opinion concerning the Sheriff’s office had to do with a “shortage of $3,092 in the Drug Buy and Petty Cash Funds on October 6, 2016.” Chris House, the Sheriff’s office bookkeeper, admitted to taking the cash for personal use. House has been charged with a felony in this incidence.
The auditor’s report noted that the County Officials who received the adverse opinions have “responded and indicated that their offices will segregate the duties” regarding county business transactions “to the extent possible with the current staffing levels.”
Judge Holmes stated that all adverse opinions have been corrected.