Passions ran high at Tuesday night’s Faulkner County Quorum Court meeting.
Following a discussion that ranged from tender feelings about the county’s free-roaming pets to a hard line on being good stewards of the people’s money, the Justices of the Peace resolved to keep sequestered the proceeds of a voluntary tax designated for animal control until the fund reaches $1.5 million.
That’s the estimated cost of a “facility sufficient to provide comprehensive animal control services” for the county.
Faulkner County Treasurer Regina Oakley said the voluntary tax brings in about $100,000 a year.
“The goal is to accumulate enough money to not only build but also operate a shelter,” she said.
Faulkner County Judge Preston Scroggin told the Court that if the money currently in the fund — $571,313 — were spent before the shelter is built, “Well,” the judge said, “once it’s spent, it’s spent.”
There would be no other funding source from the county for animal control, he said.
JP Johnny Wells said there were people from the community who would see the $500,000 in the fund and fashion a proposal to fit the money available.
“But it’s the duty of the court to decide how the county will operate from now to kingdom come,” he said.
Kay Andrew, who has appeared before the court several times about the matter, suggested that the court try a spay and neuter program for a year, giving vouchers to pet owners for operations by participating veterinarians who would be reimbursed by the county.
“Just try it for a year,” she said. “It would be a good starting point to do something right.”
In other business, the court approved:
• (Clarification) The hiring of two deputies for November and December for the Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office at salaries of $24,487.84 each, including benefits. Funding for the positions will come from a jail fines fund. The new hires will be patrol deputies and “put on the street,” said Leslie Moore, representing Sheriff Karl Byrd. The annual base salary, without benefits, of a patrol deputy is $29,149.82.
• A request from County Clerk Melinda Reynolds for $5,000 for required publication of the JP districts redrawn because of the 2010 census.
• A resolution allowing the Judge to apply for a $50,000 grant from the Arkansas Rural Development Commission for construction of a new fire house for the Guy Volunteer Fire Department.
• A resolution supporting fair housing, a requirement for a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for improvements in the Stone Mountain area.
(Staff writer Becky Harris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 505-1234.)