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Proposals made for county budget

By Staff, 12/11/18 11:15 AM

PRESCOTT – Nevada County’s County General budget will be tight next year.

Part of the reason is funding for the Prescott-Nevada County Economic Development Office, $25,000, will be taken from county general instead of the Solid Waste Department. This was decided at the Nevada County Quorum Court’s Budget Committee meeting Monday evening. The Solid Waste Department has been cutting it close, budget-wise, for a few years now.

The meeting began with the panel agreeing the $5,000 proposed for the Prescott-Nevada County Chamber of Commerce last year would be an annual budget amount if the funds are available.

Chamber Director Jamie Hillery said she will continue providing monthly updates of the Chamber’s activities.

It was also agreed to fund Imagination Library $1,500. Nevada County Judge Mark Glass said there are 387 children in the county receiving free books through this program. It was pointed out this program also gets financial help through other donations.

Jim Cross, director of the Nevada County Office of Emergency Management (OEM), suggested either hiring a full-time director or giving him a raise to help offset some of the expenses incurred from the position. Cross has been the OEM director since 1997 and is on call 24/7. He worked the train-truck collision in Emmet Saturday, and told the committee he’s worked 17 chemical spills to date this year.

He added, with the proposed construction in Interstate-30, he expects to be called out more. He pointed out there was almost a wreck daily in Hempstead and Miller counties when construction was going on in that section. The proposed construction will take 18-24 months.

He said the county is losing $10,646 a year from matching grant money based on the OEM’s salary, adding Nevada County pays less than any other county in the state and only one other county has a part-time OEM director (Hot Spring County). The panel was told the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM) will match 50 percent of the OEM’s salary up to $38,910, with these funds going to the county general fund.

Cross said he gets $1,200 for fuel a year. However, his internet and phone services are included as part of his salary and he has to pay taxes on them as this is a requirement by the auditors. He added whoever replaces him in the position needs to have a good rapport with the various fire departments. Part of Cross’s job is to provide training to firefighters. In addition, he said, the county is losing money because grants available aren’t being applied for since the position is part time, and he’s currently handling $300,000 in grants.

The committee decided it would make the position full-time, as the funds are in the budget.

Nevada County Sheriff Danny Martin asked for a new vehicle for the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office, along with either giving Karen Ghormley a $1 an hour raise and requiring her to work nights, or to give four jailers 25-cents an hour raises, make them sergeants and having them help take some of the workload off the jail administrator. Either way, it was pointed out, the same amount is involved. Martin talked to committee member Bob Cummins earlier and said he’d prefer to have four sergeants so there would be one available for each shift. This is the recommendation the court will get later today.

Purchasing a vehicle was tabled until the December QC meeting Tuesday evening.

Dale Booker, 911 coordinator, has asked for a county vehicle with GPS built in. Booker currently is the only person getting mileage as he uses his personal car for the 911 position. It was agreed to pass once of the NCSO vehicles to Booker if a new one is approved.

Bonuses for county employees will also be proposed with full-time employees to get $650 and part-timers to get $325. It was suggested the QC members also get bonuses of $650. This will be voted on separately at tonight’s meeting.

Cummins also suggested a hiring freeze in all departments except for jailers.