El Dorado News-Times
Extra help, technology funding approved for county officials
The Union County Quorum Court agreed unanimously to approve funds for extra help in the county Treasurer’s Office and for new software in the county Assessor’s Office on Thursday.
District 1 Justice of the Peace Mike Dumas, who chairs the Quorum Court’s finance committee, explained that the Treasurer’s Office needed $10,750 to pay information technology specialist Jim Monk for recent work.
“This is to pay Jim Monk for the final tax settlement and his cost of making some adjustments in the Treasurer’s Office, and cleaning up the Treasurer’s Office, as he described it, to be able to complete the final tax settlement,” Dumas said.
Monk, who has overseen technical updates in the county since the 1980s, recently retired, but Dumas said funds additional work Monk has performed in the county clerk’s office will likely need to be appropriated in March.
“The tax settlement, under Arkansas statute, is the responsibility of the county clerk. For my part, I like for it to be paid out of the Treasurer’s Office. If you pay it out of the Treasurer’s Office, everyone – all taxing units – get to share in covering the cost of that final tax settlement,” Dumas said.
Next year, the county will need to contract with a different IT specialist for the final tax settlement, Dumas noted. County Treasurer Jody Cunningham said she’d already reached out to treasurers in other counties about the issue.
“I’ve talked to a couple of other counties and I’ve got the name of a guy in Malvern that Columbia County uses, and he does theirs for like $3,000 a year. And it’s not just theirs, he does several,” she said. “I was going to talk to Mandi (Fudge, county Clerk) – because, again, it’s up to her – but see if she wanted to reach out to him and (see if he could) give us a quote for doing ours next year.”
An ordinance that would appropriate the funds for Monk, and create an “extra help” line in the Treasurer’s Office budget, was approved unanimously by present JPs.
JPs also unanimously agreed to appropriate $17,600 for the county Assessor to purchase a new mapping system. “This is new money,” Dumas said. The mapping system software by Data Scout, LLC, would create a web-based, single-source map viewer for the county, according to the company’s website. District 7 JP Johnny Burson asked if the new map would replace the county’s existing GIS (geographic information system) data.
“It’s correcting all of that,” County Judge Mike Loftin said. “They’re going to correct the mistakes, first, and then they’re going to do the whole thing.”
Burson asked if the map would cause local residents’ addresses to change.
“No, no, no. It’s not doing any of that,” Loftin said. “It’s a parcel map. We’re not going through that address change again.”
JPs agreed as well to create a new fund in the County Jail budget for a $100,000 grant the Sheriff’s Office received from the state for new body cameras for jail officers. JPs agreed in December to appropriate $32,018.21 to cover the cost of the cameras the grant didn’t fund.
Sheriff Ricky Roberts said Thursday the cameras had arrived, and jailers would be trained for their use in March.
“We’re waiting on the mounts and we’re waiting on training, and training starts March 3,” Roberts said.
Dumas said the additional $32,000 could be appropriated into the grant fund in March as well.
The new cameras are from Axon Industries, the same company from which the UCSO purchased body cameras for patrol deputies in April 2021.