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Complaint levied, budget passed at NCQC meeting

By Staff, 12/13/17 9:43 AM

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PRESCOTT – Donald Flaherty levied a complaint against Nevada County Judge Mark Glass, claiming he wasn’t doing his job.

This was done at the December meeting of the Nevada County Quorum Court Tuesday evening. Flaherty said he’s called Glass more than 100 times, and it’s reached the point where the judge won’t return his calls. The problem stems from Flaherty’s fish farm flooding when it rains.

Glass said he’d asked the state to do a drainage study, but the state refused. Flaherty refuted this, claiming he had paperwork where the state did the study and put the onus on the county. According to Flaherty, the state said it was up to the county to correct the situation.

Apparently a state aid project was done on Nevada 14 in 2001, though Flaherty said he’s been complaining about flooding since 1994. Initially, he said, the levees were 10 feet taller than his field, but the new road is higher than the levees which causes flooding as the road holds no water. Flaherty also complained about his ditches not being cleaned out.

Flaherty said he’s lost more than a million dollars in fish, and has also lost other livestock when it floods, primarily goats. He said he’s been calling for seven years and called the previous county judge as well, yet nothing’s been done. He told the court he’d rather not file suit, but would if nothing is done to correct the problem.

Glass agreed to do what he could and agreed to go to Flaherty’s property at 10 a.m. Thursday to check things out.

Gloria Majors asked the county for a donation for the Imagination Library program. She’d approached the court about this at its November meeting. Majors said the program has started with children being enrolled at this time. The court agreed to donate $1,000 if it’s legal. It was pointed out the individual justices of the peace can also make individual donations.

Donnie McGuire addressed the court saying it’s against state law for a candidate to be on the same ballot twice for different positions. Ryan Harvey is on both the quorum court and the Prescott School Board. In addition, Howard Austin is a member of the Prescott City Council and will be assuming Sandra Evans’ seat on the school board.

Harvey said he’s talked to the Arkansas Attorney General and been told there is an overlap. He continued saying he’s looking into it and doesn’t want to do anything illegal or wrong.

Bob Cummings said the Association of Arkansas Counties states this is an issue all over the state, adding there is a ruling but the opinion is being fact-checked and could be released by the first of the year.

George Smith, Willie Wilson and Herbert Coleman were appointed to a personnel policy committee. These JPs will meet, check the county’s personnel policy against current policies and report back to the court.

In other business, the court approved a budget for 2018. County General’s budget will be roughly $1.5 million, Road and Bridge, $1.2 million and Solid Waste, more than $500,000. It was recommended allowing the assessor’s office to hire a part-time person for three days until the new Geological Information System (GIS) program is installed, at which time the part-time position will be eliminated and become a full-time slot. A full-time employee will also be hired in the circuit clerk’s office, both at minimum wage. All county employees were given raises of 50 cents an hour, with elected officials getting a state mandated 3 percent hike in salary.

There was some question about the employee raises as it appeared as though the jailers would be making more than $10 an hour, while all others were being raised to $10 per hour. The confusion came over jailers working holidays and getting holiday pay. At one point, members of the court weren’t sure what the new pay scale would be. In the end, though, the budget was approved as presented.

County employees will be getting a bonus this year. Full-time employees will receive $650, prorated at $55 per month, while part-timers will receive $350, also prorated at $55 a month. Members of the QC will receive a bonus of $450, though Smith opposed this and asked it be removed from the budget. Smith said he has a problem with the court giving itself a raise or bonus. However, there was no discussion on the issue.

Smith also asked $5,000 be put in the budget for the Prescott-Nevada County Chamber of Commerce in recognition of the work it does for the community.

Cummings said money going to the Chamber is a due and to make it legal, the wording would have to be clarified. It was pointed out the county can’t pay dues, but can pay for services rendered.

Mary Godwin, executive director of the Prescott-Nevada County Economic Development Office, said if the court was adding money to the Chamber there are other groups that could use funding and should be looked at.

The budget was approved by an 8-1 vote, with Harvey the lone nay vote, while the holiday bonus issue passed 8-1 with Smith voting no.

Smith suggested giving the Chamber $5,000 from the 2017 budget if the money is there and it’s legal.

Glass reminded the court it did a lot of cutting to the county general budget last year and it stayed in the red until December. Areas cut included the Nevada County Ambulance Service, the Day Service Center and the Hamilton-Blakely Senior Adult Center.

Harvey said the city pays a healthy amount of the Chamber’s budget, at $20,000, while the county pays $600.

In the end, the budget committee will look into the legality of giving additional money to the Chamber from the 2017 budget as well as giving to other groups, if the funds are there. A special meeting of the NCQC will be held at 4 p.m. Monday, Dec. 18 with this as the only agenda item.

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