The Faulkner County Quorum Court approved the 2018 budget during its regular meeting Tuesday.
Justice of the Peace John Pickett, who chairs the Budget and Finance Committee, said although the quorum court had planned to sequester $1.28 million, the committee quickly determined that wasn’t feasible for now during budget meetings over the past few weeks.
"It immediately became obvious that it would entail multiple layoffs of county employees so we dropped back to sequestering $1 million," he said Tuesday. "The budget satisfies the statutory requirement that the county should prepare and approve a balanced budget. If we make any changes in the budget tonight, we’re going to have some difficulty."
He said the quorum court would make changes to the budget next year and could revisit adding the $28,000 to sequester if available.
"Let me alert everyone that come January, the Budget and Finance Committee is going to have to make three changes in this budget: one is we’ve got to reverse some accounting entries that we did for the sheriff’s office; the second is that we reduced the grants and aids for the nonprofits by a little over $100,000 and that’s got to be restored; and third, our clerk has no funds in her budget to pay utilities," he said.
County Judge Jim Baker applauded the committee members as well as department heads for making cuts.
"There is $5 million less in this budget than last year," Baker said. "Now folks, there’s some people got a grip on some things. That’s 12 percent. There was due diligence made; a lot of it was scrutinized."
The budget passed 11-0-1 with JP Jerry Boyer abstaining and JP Tom Voegele absent. Boyer said he abstained because he worked closely with Judge Troy Braswell in juvenile court, which is included in the budget and he wanted to avoid "even the appearance" of impropriety.