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Hempstead County Quorum Court

By Staff, 12/16/21 6:36 PM

The Hempstead County Quorum Court met Thursday for their December meeting.  Following the approval of the minutes, the board went into agenda items.

First up was local farmer Russell Womack from the Spring Hill area.  He asked the JP’s to ask those over the Southwest Research and Extension Center to look into doing research on cow/calf production.  He said currently the SWREC does a lot of”stocker” cattle research and there’s not much of that production locally.  Womack said there are currently over 32,000 beef cattle in the county and Hempstead County is 4th in the state in this production.  Womack asked the JP’S to also consider getting the deputies’ pay more competitive.  Ed Darling said that should be addressed in the budget.

The JP’S voted some one-time pay increases.  These funds were provided by the federal government to compensate essential workers during the pandemic.

The JP’S voted to levy taxes both real and personal for county general, county road, county road, county library, all school districts,and all municipalities.

The JP’S approved a transfer ordinance.

The JP’S moved to the proposed 2022 budget.  JP Ed Darling said there has been a “pressing need in human resources”.  He said they have proposed “significant increases” for county officials and employees.  Darling said the main aim is to “try to get folks to a living wage”.  Darling said Hempstead is at the bottom of Division 3 counties in pay for county officials and the budget proposes a $5,000 raise for county officials.  He also noted the proposed county general budget is $4.8 million, about$600,000 more than last year.  The increase is made up of salary increases and operating costs that were expected.  Darling said in the Sheriff’s budget, the proposed budget includes a raise for deputies at entry level increasing from $31,000 to $38,000.  Darling they had to add some raises for CID and Chief Deputy so they won’t be making less than the patrol deputies.  Darling went through more budget items including the appropriation for a Veteran’s Service officer.  That job is currently open.  Also, Darling said the JP’S haven’t had a raise since the Quorum Court was established in it’s present situation in the 70’s.  The budget proposes a $100 per month increase.  Darling also noted a proposed $220,000 increase for road department salaries.  This will help bring truck drivers and heavy equipment operators up to ARdot levels.  After going through some smaller budget items,  he noted some increases in jail salaries.  Again, this was due to needing to have competitive salaries.  Also, Darling noted there are no “easy” prisoners in the jail anymore.  Following some more explanations, Darling explained that it just has to be approved by December 31st.  The JP’S voted to approve the budget.  JP James Griffin, via video, lauded Darling’s work on the budget.

Richard Kidd of the road department thanked the JP’s for the raises.  The JP’s, led by David Clayton, lauded the road department.  Judge Jerry Crane lauded Darling, Steve Atchley for their efforts. Atchley said he was happy they were able to give raises to all county employees.

JP Troy Lerew asked when the county is moving into the new Courthouse and it was noted they hope to get in next month.

A discussion was held on the shortage of 30 yard dumpsters.  It was noted new ones have gone up from $4,8000 to $9,800.

The meeting then adjourned.