The Van Buren County Quorum Court members had a lengthy discussion on correcting errors in the payment amounts for 911 dispatch employees in Van Buren County during its February meeting.

First, the quorum court passed an ordinance correcting the payment of three newly-hired 911 dispatchers that were transferred from the city of Fairfield Bay to Van Buren County. During the transition to the county, the pay of these employees was reduced to less than the amount they should’ve been paid.

According to the Quorum Court, it was not the intent of the county to reduce the pay of these employees, so an ordinance was put before the court to correct this error.

“Those numbers can’t be explained,” Justice Nickie Brown said.

That ordinance was passed by an unanimous vote.

A second ordinance was then put before the Quorum Court which corrected the payments of multiple 911 dispatchers that were previously approved for the 2023 budget.

Last year, the budget committee decided not to give any raises to any county employees in 2023 and instead decided to give them bonuses on Jan. 17. However, some 911 dispatchers’s hourly and salary payments were more than what they were making in 2022.

The ordinance corrected those payments to what the employees were making in 2022 without a raise in order to make it “fair” to other Van Buren county employees, justices said.

“As much as I think they deserve more than what they’re getting, I have difficulty doing that when we told the other employees ‘no raises,’” Justice Virgil Lemings said at the meeting.

This ordinance, however, was voted against unanimously due to the fact that there were inconsistencies in the numbers that the Quorum Court was given at the February meeting. Some justices wanted to bring this ordinance back to the budget committee to be looked over and then call a special meeting to discuss it again.

A recess was then called in order for the Quorum Court to look over these inconsistencies in the numbers. After the meeting resumed, Director of Van Buren County 911 Judy Wells pleaded to the court about the difficulties the department has been having.

“We go through six to eight months of training to do what we do,” she said. “To hire people on at what we’re paying them now is really getting impossible, and that makes the whole county suffer.”

Justice David Holcomb then made a motion for the court to have a second recess where justices could draft a new ordinance that night to correct the payments for these employees to vote on it once the meeting came back together. This way, he said, the court wouldn’t be costing the county money by having this go back to budget committee and then having another meeting over it.

The new ordinance was to appropriate the funds in order to correct the hourly and salary amounts of the employees. It was approved unanimously.

“We have to be fair across the board to our county employees,” Justice Sarah Brown said.

The Quorum Court also discussed an appropriation to amend the budget in order to add stipend payments to full-time law enforcement officers.

The 2022 Fiscal Session of the Arkansas Legislature appropriated funds for law enforcement stipend grants which gives a $5,000 stipend to all eligible full-time law enforcement officers for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2023.

This was approved unanimously.

The Van Buren County Quorum Court also approved:

An ordinance to appropriate $2,500 for the Van Buren County Conservation District.

An ordinance to appropriate $10,000 into the Sheriff’s Office Budget and $2,550 into the Detention Center Budget.

An ordinance to correct a payment for the Law Library.

An ordinance to clean up the 2022 annual budget.

An ordnance to appropriate $2,000 into the Quorum Court budget due to adding four additional budget meetings.

A resolution authorizing for the county judge to apply for a grant of the Arkansas Unpaved Roads grant program.

Jordan Wooodson can be reached at

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