White County Board Continues to Wrestle With Budget
The White County Board spent considerable time Tuesday discussing the 2019 budget that currently is about $127,000 in the red.
A budget hearing prior to the regular meeting was well attended by county office holders and many of their employees, all concerned about proposed lay-offs in the offices. David Dosher, board chairman explained that the board continues to look at all possible alternatives to stem the lay-offs explaining the budget committee had shaved a much higher shortfall to the budget down to the $127,000. It was pointed out that revenue is the problem, with the loss of coal mine funds and the rising costs associated with the county government, cuts may be necessary.
It was decided, following some contentious discussion between the chairman and members of the audience, it was decided to hold a meeting with the office holders to work on trimming the $127,000 shortfall.
The final budget must be passed at the November board meeting.
In other matters, the board approved amending a county clerk fee resolution concerning rental housing support from $10 to $9 as mandated by the state.
The public defender salary was increased by 2.2% to $99,931, retroactive to July of this year. That is part of a cost of living increase, which must be given to the public defender, anytime the State’s attorney received a cost of living increase, as required by law. The state will pay a portion of the increase, with a portion to be shared by Edwards and White County.
Several appointments were approved to drainage districts, including Walter Ray Harris to the Granny Tweedle district; Morris Ray Jones to the Randolph Drainage District; Donald Glover to Mill Shoals 3 and Tim Smith to the Mud Creek Drainage district.
The board approved a new plan for the insurance premiums of the Hope Trust, which covers employee insurance. There will be an increase in cost to both the county and employees.
Chairman Dosher brought the board up to date on a possible solar farm in White County to be located between Norris City and Enfield. Dosher explained the state has laid out guidelines concerning property taxes for a solar farm, pointing out commercial solar farms will be taxed upon kilowatt hours produced and land values will remain the same across the state for solar farms. Dosher was optimistic the state would approve the proposed farm and hoped perhaps more than one would be awarded to the area.
In other business, Dosher reported the loan for the ambulance service had been finalized and efforts were underway to restore the service to Advanced Life support status. It was also reported the ambulance showed an $8,000 profit for the month.
County treasure Pam Armstrong pointed out her office continues to collect taxes and she is getting ready to make a second disbursement.