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Court approves “premium pay” for employees, officials and JPs

By Staff, 11/10/21 10:15 AM

PRESCOTT  РWhen is a bonus not a bonus?

When it’s premium pay. There’s a subtle difference, but the Nevada County Quorum Court, in its November meeting, voted to give all full-time county employees a “raise” of $1.05 for the past 17 months. This comes out to 2,880 hours and will be paid in a lump-sum of $3,024 to each full-time employee before all federal and state taxes are taken out. The funds will be paid out of the American Recovery Program Act money. In addition, all elected officials, including all justices of the peace,¬† will be given “premium pay” of $100 a month for the past 17 months, before taxes.

JP Bob Cummings said, this is not a bonus and isn’t coming from the county’s operating funds. He said other counties have given their employees premium pay in lieu of Christmas bonuses.

JP Pat Grimes said the county needs to make sure this is legal before taking any action. Cummings agreed, saying the Prosecuting Attorney’s office will be called. The court agreed to the “premium pay” if it’s legal.

Part-time employees will also be included in the premium pay, based on the number of hours they worked. Nevada County Judge Mark Glass suggested the elected officials and JPs be included in the premium pay plan. Cummings told the court it can’t compensate itself, but the judge can.

Overall, he said, this will take around $225,000 out of the $800,000 the county received from the federal government in recovery funds.

In other business, the court was informed of the redistricting of JP district lines. The redistricting was done by DataScout Geospatial Services of Little Rock. Nevada County Clerk Julie Oliver said the 2020 census count was used and district lines were redrawn with the idea of each having roughly 919 residents with a 3 percent variance either way. The election commission approved the new maps.

Districts three and four saw the biggest changes. District 3 had 1,001 residents prior to the redistricting while District 4 had 1,044. Lines were drawn dropping District 3 to 919, while District 4 was reduced to 908 residents.

Cummings complained saying the company went overboard. He also complained about two members of the election commission being married and living in the same household.

Oliver said all districts were moved, with District 5 moving the least. As to the election commission, she said the state was called and here’s no law against married couples serving together.

Cummings pointed out all meetings of the court are supposed to be audio recorded, under a new law. This is supposed to be rectified by the next meeting.

Joyce Banks was present to complain about the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office. She told the court she’s had problems with someone trespassing on her property and stealing things. She said she’s called the NCSO several times, but nothing’s been done, other than she was told to contact the Prosecuting Attorney’s office, but the PA said they haven’t received any reports from the NCSO.

Banks told the court she’s talked to Sheriff Danny Martin and Deputy Steve Otwell, but nothing’s been done. She also said she knows who’s trespassing and stealing from her.

Cummings suggested they meet with the Sheriff about it.

Arval Cox was on hand to talk about the Falcon Cemetery Association getting control over the 1824 cemetery. The association, he said, maintains it, but has no legal authority to do anything with it. Someone wants to put up an iron fence, which would make it harder to mow and maintain.

John Knight, president of the association, said they haven’t been able to find any paperwork on the original cemetery, even though the association maintains it. He said the association is appealing to the quorum court to rectify the situation.

Cummings suggested tabling this until the court could get more information from the Association of Arkansas Counties.

The court approved all city millages.These aren’t new taxes, but mills required by the state for communities to receive state turnback funds.

Jamie Hillery, executive director of the Prescott-Nevada County Chamber of Commerce, told the court of the Chamber’s Giving Tree program where 25 families will be adopted and essential items provided to those in need. She reminded the court the Chamber held two ribbon cuttings last week for Tiffany Cagle Boutique and Fore of a Kind BBQ.

Glass appointed a budget committee made up of Herbert Coleman, Pat Grimes and Cummings. They will meet at 5 p.m. Nov. 22. Glass said anyone is welcome. At some point, there will be a special meeting of the court to discuss, and approve, the premium pay issue.