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Hempstead County Quorum Court Holds Special Meeting, Votes “Premium Pay” For County Employees, Officials, and JP’s

By Staff, 11/8/21 6:13 PM

The Hempstead County Quorum Court met Monday in a special meeting to discuss “premium pay” for country workers utilizing American Rescue Plan funds.

Assistant Prosecutor Jim Burke in his role as county attorney went over uses for the funding.  The uses include support of public health, to address the negative impact of the pandemic, replacement of lost public sector revenue, premium pay for essential workers, as well as water, sewer, and broadband issues.

    First up, County Clerk Karen Smith said there have been 58 terminated employees in the period in question.  She noted if these people were included she would have to re-add these employees and add them back in the state’s APERS system for one check.  Discussion ensued with most JP’s favoring including only employees who are currently employed by the county.
    JP David Clayton suggested going with a $3 an hour premium pay for the period January 27th, 2020 to July 31st of this year.  More discussion ensued.  Some of this dealt with going back to January or March 2020.  Burke also noted that a designation from the judge would also be required to include Quorum Court members.  Clayton made a motion including $3 per hour from March 3rd through 2020 through July 31st of this year.  This would include county staff, Quorum Court members, and officials. It was noted the county has so far received $2.1 million in ARP funds this year.  A similar amount is expected next year.  Discussion also ensued on whether solid waste needed additional funds.  County Treasurer Judy Flowers indicated there wasn’t a need there.  The motion as presented passed.
    JP James Griffin noted the Sheriff’s Department has a vehicle that has an exhaust leak.  Two people were made sick by it.  Hope Auto says it is still emitting carbon monoxide.  The Sheriff said Superior Chevrolet in Siloam Springs will replace it for $25,800.  The county will also file a small claims suit against Ford.  The matter will be addressed at the next meeting.  The meeting then adjourned.