New Faulkner County Attorney Allen Dodson will enter his position making about $20,000 less than former county attorney Stephan Hawks made when he resigned in June.
Dodson, who was hired as the new county attorney July 17, will earn approximately $84,000 for his position, according to Faulkner County Administrator Jeff Johnston. Hawks left his position earning about $104,000. He told county officials that he was waiving pay he felt was owed to him during his time off on administrative leave. The official letter waiving that pay came in mid-July.
Some county officials had pointed to a black truck driven by Hawks as owned by the county and part of his compensation. Johnston said the truck was owned by Hawks, not the county. Dodson does not receive a vehicle from the county as part of his compensation. Dodson will receive vacation and sick pay as an employee of Faulkner County.
"This county is growing," Dodson said when he took the position. "I believe that I have a particular skill set that matches up with what the county desires. One does always keep their eye on the horizon, and I thought this would be a good position if it ever came available."
Arguments over Hawks’ pay while he was on administrative leave arose between the county judge’s office and several members of the quorum court, although interim county attorney Joe Don Winningham released an opinion during his week working for the county stating that Hawks should have been allowed to be paid vacation pay during his time off. Hawks spent approximately seven weeks in a rehabilitation facility in Malibu, Calif.
Questions then were brought up about Hawks’ time serving for nearby cities including Vilonia and whether his vacation time should have been used during his time there. With the waiving of the pay, however, it seems as if all parties have moved on.
In addition to Dodson doing civil work for the county, the firm of Rainwater, Holt and Sexton has been placed on retainer to deal with the number of lawsuits against the county. The quorum court approved an increase in the amount of risk management insurance coverage in order to deal with the lawsuits, which stem from the county jail. Currently, 33 lawsuits are pending from rights violations at the county jail, most deal with denial of medical care.
A Faulkner County Sheriff’s officer recently lost his hearing during a grievance committee hearing that involved the use of excessive force on an inmate. The inmate is suing the county. Interim county attorney David Hogue presided over the hearing.
The quorum court recently agreed to allocating funds for more risk management insurance in relation to the lawsuits.