Faulkner County Quorum Court voted to fund the property for a county animal shelter at its regular meeting July 20. The vote permits the county to purchase four acres plus a building in Springhill which will be updated to become the county animal shelter.
At the same meeting justices began the process of approving an ordinance to organize Faulkner County ordinances into a more accessible format, and an ordinance to update the scope for advertising county jobs.
The building purchase, the final ordinance discussed that evening, was apparently the ordinance which had a more-than-usual number of spectators on hand. As had been discussed at previous meetings, the building and property price was based upon the purchase being completed by Aug. 1 – a deadline met by the Tuesday night vote.
In discussing the ordinance prior to vote, some justices were concerned that the purchase did not including an operating plan with projected expenses for the shelter. Justice Rose Roland made this point initially, but added that she would vote in favor of the purchase despite an operating plan not being in place. Justice Kris Kendrick, who would later be the sole vote in opposition to the purchase, shared Roland’s concerns.
After the meeting, Kendrick said his no vote was specifically due to the lack of business plan for the purchase, at $408,811 per the ordinance.
“You would not have a business without an operating plan,” Kendrick said.
Prior to the ordinance discussion and during public comments, the court heard from Friends of the Faulkner County Animal Shelter Advisory Board members Susan Shaddox and Donna Clawson about options in structuring an operation for the shelter. In their presentation, the group proposed a shelter board be formed, which would hire an “Animal Services Manager” who would then draw up a business plan for the shelter.
The example used in the presentation was the animal shelter in Bentonville, Arkansas.
Specifics of the cost of shelter operation were not discussed past the need for a plan. The shelter fund, from which the $408,811 was drawn, is the proceeds of a voluntary tax, currently totaling about $1.7 million, justices heard. In earlier meetings justices were told contributions to the fund could be expected to increase once a shelter building is in place, both from voluntary tax contributions, as well as grant money available once an animal shelter has a physical space.
Faulkner County Judge Jim Baker said the price for the building and land, at 597 Highway 65 in Springhill currently housing the “Through the Years” flea market, was initially higher, but was negotiated down to $400,000 based upon the county having a Feb. 1 move-in date.
“If we can’t agree on how to run it [by Feb. 1] we’ll sell the darn thing,” Baker said.
After the vote was taken and the ordinance passed, a number of spectators applauded.
Justices also passed an ordinance which allows the county to advertise county job openings on the county website, and not limiting job opening postings to the Arkansas Works state website. The ordinance, sponsored by Roland, would remove the stigma of people having to apply through the unemployment office, Roland said.
A second advantage was that this would also allow the county to advertise its job openings on websites such as Indeed. Faulkner County Sheriff Tim Ryals told the court about his office’s recent experience in hiring jailers, and how once the openings were advertising on Indeed, it had significantly more applicants than when using the state website alone.
Justices also heard the first reading an ordinance creating a code for county ordinances. The project creating an ordinance book which allowed faster reference to existing ordinances, was put together by the Association of Arkansas Counties, Justice Tyler Lachowsky, ordinance sponsor, along with Justice Tyler Pearson.
The ordinance included an emergency clause which would have allowed the code/book to go into effect right away, but this was stricken after Justice Matt Brown expressed concern that the codifying and classifying may have created unintended legal parameters. A three-reading format would allow time to review the scope of what was being proposed, he said.
During announcements at the end of the meeting, after the topic was initiated by Baker, several justices expressed concern over the current growing number of COVID-19 cases and what the county could do to encourage people, including county employees as pointed out by Justice Justin Knight, to get vaccinated.
“I would like to see the county take a leadership role,” Pearson said.