Little money

left to spare

By Ed Galucki

Staff Writer

After hours of wrangling in budget meetings since October, with a last-minute session before the quorum court meeting Thursday, justices of the peace presented a $6.73 million budget for 2013.

With projected revenue of $6.74 million, there is little to spare.

County Judge Doug Erwin and justices of the peace Joe Farrer, Larry Odom, Tim Lemons, Barry Weathers, Adam Sims, Richard Lynch, Sonny Moery, Mike Dolan, Bill Ryker, H.L. Lang and Claude Irving attended the meeting.

Though the vote to approve the budget was unanimous, not everyone was happy with it.

Lang remarked, "It seems a lot of philosophy has changed here." Most of the Republican members had been elected as conservatives, "But it seems that it is not as conservative as I would like it to be," he said.

Lang said he would vote for the budget on the committee’s recommendation, "But I am not comfortable with all of it."

Lemons, who headed the committee, responded that the difference between the 2012 and 2013 is about $110,000. "About 90 percent of that is due to the three percent raise we are giving to county employees," he said.

While he considers himself, "A conservative Republican to the core … but if you don’t take care of your people, you won’t be able to keep them," Lemons said.

Erwin remarked that when he first sat as county judge, "I asked everybody to check their party at the door … that we all work together for the best interest of Lonoke County."

"I think we have been good stewards of the county’s money. We’ve been able to pass the budget, and work within our means without having to raise the taxes on the people," Erwin said.

Sims added that it has not been long ago that the concern was whether or not the county could afford to operate the new jail. "We were talking about all the ideas of what we might have to do … I think we have done pretty darn good," he said.

Selected appropriations were county judge - $97,646; county clerk - $393,642; circuit clerk - $207,507; treasurer - $195,048; Sheriff - $1.69 million; jail - $1.4 million; collector - $311,438; coroner - $74,058;

Assessor - $481,490; quorum court - $78,630; reappraisals - $271,656; circuit court I - $97,601; circuit court II - $52,620; circuit court III - $74,877; circuit court jury fees - $35,000; prosecuting attorney - $172,107; juvenile probation - $302,316;

Election commission - $57,000; city court expenses - $170,100; office of emergency services - $73,727; and agri extension - $87,687.