City & County

Some Clark County offices eyeing new vehicles in 2024 plans

Members of Clark County’s Budget Committee talk Wednesday during the beginning stages of preparing for next year’s budget. Members include Justices Zach Bledsoe, B.J. Johns (chair), Vanilla Hannah and Wayne Baumgardner. One position on the panel belonged to a recently vacated seat on the Quorum Court. | The Arkadelphian/Joel Phelps

New vehicles, library maintenance and general inflation are among the topics of government finances as Clark County plans for 2024


The Clark County Budget Committee is pondering whether to add $276,500 in expenditures next year for four county department heads. A meeting Wednesday was the committee’s beginning process of ironing out the county’s 2024 budget.

Any county official anticipating an increase of $5,000 or more over their current budget was asked beforehand to present their request to the four-member panel. County Treasurer Karen Arnold said at the meeting that she doesn’t anticipate much change in her 2024 projections, but did warn the Budget Committee that actual funding will depend on the nation’s fluctuating interest rates and could change before the budget is finalized.

The committee took no action Wednesday on the four officials’ requests. Any decision the committee makes in the future will be sent to the full 11-member Quorum Court for consideration.

Tate Chanler, director of the county’s Office of Emergency Management, is asking for $43,000 to buy a new truck. Chanler said he inherited the 2016 Dodge Ram he currently drives, and noted the instrument panel’s check engine light is constantly on and “refuses to go off.” He said he’s exploring options for a more affordable vehicle by studying out-of-state bids, namely from the Texas State Vehicle Contract. Other Arkansas counties, he explained, have done their shopping out of state also as Arkansas has limited purchasing options.

Were he to have a new ride, Chanler said he’d like his office to keep the current pickup as a “backup” for an OEM deputy to use, rather than his personal vehicle, or to surrender it to the Road Department.

County Librarian Betsy Fisher is requesting $5,000 to cover increases to eBook usage, and to cover a content streaming service offered to library patrons.

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Fisher also asked for $13,500 to match a state Historical Preservation grant received for repairs to the library’s interior and exterior.

Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Raymond Funderburk is requesting $195,000 to purchase and equip three police vehicles. The figure he provided equates to $65,000 per vehicle.

Committee member Wayne Baumgardner inquired whether the sheriff’s office would mirror OEM’s attempt to shop out-of-state bids for cheaper results. Funderburk said his projection for the new vehicles was based on previous purchases of police units. “But if we can go to Texas and get it, I’ll be there in a minute,” Funderburk said.

There was no mention during Wednesday’s meeting of salary increases for sheriff’s deputies, although Sheriff Jason Watson has begun a plea with the full Quorum Court for higher wages within his department.

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Circuit Clerk Brian Daniel is requesting a budget increase of “roughly” $20,000 “simply for the fact that the cost of everything is going up.” The company his office contracts with for cataloging property records, for instance, has increased its pricing, he said.

Assessor Mona Vance’s request falls below the $5,000 threshold the committee requires. Vance said her proposed increase is for part-time services, which she said would be discussed at a later meeting.

There were no requests from the road or sanitation departments, said Sandra Blanton, administrative assistant to county Judge Troy Tucker, who oversees those budgets.

This week’s meeting was the first in the budget planning process, and likely one of several to happen before the full court’s Jan. 1 deadline to submit the county’s 2024 budget.