City & County

Justices strike down raise proposed for themselves

By JOEL PHELPS | The Arkadelphian

Justice of the Peace Albert Neal got the silent treatment Monday when he asked fellow members of the Clark County Quorum Court to consider a raise for themselves.

Albert Neal

Justices of the peace currently pull down $2,400 a year if they show up to each monthly meeting of the quorum court. The figure boils down to $200 for each meeting. Neal asked the court to consider bumping that monthly figure up by $50, which would have rounded out their annual earnings to $3,000.

A similar measure failed last year, he pointed out, when he asked for a per diem increase. “That didn’t happen,” he said. “Since there has been no increase for 25 plus years for this office, I’m wondering, since we are the legislative body, if it would be in order to take a vote to see if we want the increase.”

Neal then put his request in the form of a motion, which died on the floor for a lack of a second from a fellow justice. “No problem,” he said. “We’ll [try] again next year.”

County applying for ‘Tribal’ funds

The quorum court adopted an ordinance creating a line in its general budget to receive Local Assistance Tribal Consistency Fund from the federal government.

County Judge Troy Tucker told justices the county would apply to receive for more than $57,000 from the feds this year, and would be entitled to the same amount in 2023. Like the CAREs Act funding, “basically you apply for it, and once you get it you figure out what you can do with it,” Treasurer Karen Arnold said.

Justice Neal asked what “tribal” meant in the title of the fund. Arnold replied that the funds aren’t allocated solely to states or counties with tribal lands. Tucker added that not all counties receive the same amount, but was unsure how the feds determined the amount a county government was entitled to.

The motion carried unanimously.

In other business

Justices heard from county extension agents Amy Simpson, Cindy Hamm and JoAnn Vann, each of whom provided detailed reports about their programs.

Tucker noted the county’s computer system, Apprentice Information Systems, has been down for several days due to a data breech on the company. He reassured that Clark County’s records were not affected in that breach. As one of about 40 other counties whose systems went offline, Tucker said county officials have gone offline and re-learned “how to do some things the old-fashioned way.”

Arnold reported sales tax collected in Clark County are “way up” compared to this time last year. In October the county collected $246,000 from the 1/2-cent economic development sales tax. After the bond payment, the Economic Development Corp. of Clark County netted $190,000 in October.

With interest rates on the rise, Arnold also reported her office has begun the depository bidding process, having sent proposals to banks throughout Clark County.

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  1. It is my opinion that JPs should not give themselves a raise, but instead refer it to the voters. The People are their bosses, not the other way around, & it’s the people’s money they’re getting paid with, so as a matter of principle, I believe it should be put up to a vote. If possible, perhaps Justice Neal could propose a referendum & instead of the QC deciding, it would be the People.