The Finance Committee of the Craighead County Quorum Court is holding budget meetings about next year’s budget. Yesterday, the third such meeting was held, as the heads of each department presented their requests for funding next year. While final numbers for the budget are days away, Craighead County Treasurer Terry McNatt tells KASU news the budget will be very tight, with no wiggle room to work.
“The last three budget meetings, county department heads have been presenting their requests and all of them have also been cutting some of those budgets during the meetings,” says McNatt. “I am just still very concerned that we have more expenditures than revenues coming in.”
He says next years’ projections are not favorable, as expenditures in the 2018 budget could outweigh revenues anywhere between 700-thousand and well over one million dollars.
“The latest numbers that I saw where that County Judge Ed Hill was predicting about $16.9 million dollars in expenditures and only about $16.2 million dollars in revenues. The Treasurer’s office was looking at $15.7 million dollars in revenues, so we will be looking at either more cuts, looking for additional reserves, or using reserve funds.”
Terry McNatt. He expects a final budget to be ready for the full Quorum Court by the next meeting in December.
In other news, the Quorum Court heard a very brief update on the county’s regional crisis stabilization unit. Craighead County Judge Ed Hill and Assistant to the Judge Tony Thomas spoke for Craighead County Sheriff Marty Boyd, who was not at the meeting because of an illness. Thomas says Sheriff Boyd has found a site on Browns Lane in Jonesboro that could be leased for a couple of years for placement of the center, with the option of purchasing after lease. The lease would run just over five-thousand dollars a month and about $130-thousand dollars to renovate.
“Once we get this facility moving, there is a possibility that the money we use for this could be recouped by the Medicare and Medicaid insurance building that is part of this program,” says Thomas. “We are hopeful the court will give us some startup cash to get this facility going.”
Thomas says the quorum court will be presented with this proposal at the next meeting, and a decision will need to be quick so work can be done on the facility.
“We need to know that they are onboard with this facility with the proposed lease amount of about $60,000 a year,” says Thomas. “It is unlikely that such a facility would be ready for January first, so this could be something that could be added to the 2018 budget, even after it passes.”
He says the $1.5 million dollar grant the state has given the county for this center can only be used in operating the 16-bed facility. The location is close to Mid South Behavioral Health Systems, which would be a partner with the county for the facility. Those with mental illnesses would be taken to this center to get help and treatment, instead of being arrested.
Finally, the quorum court has officially declared a vacancy for District 3 on the Quorum Court. This after Justice Jim Bryant passed away in October. Governor Asa Hutchinson will appoint a replacement to fill the remainder of the term through December 31, 2018. Whoever is appointed cannot immediately run for that term and would have to wait until the following election to run.