The first meeting of the new year for Pulaski County Fiscal Court calls for the approval of budgets for the county clerk and sheriff, whose fee offices operate on a calendar year (January 1-December 31) rather than a fiscal one (July 1-June 30).
First up was County Clerk Linda Burnett, who presented a $23 million budget — up from $19 million last year.
“We’ve had a little bit of increase in monies thankfully,” Burnett said, adding the possibility of a future amendment dealing with the ongoing renovations to open the Grand Central South Branch.
When questioned about the increase, Burnett explained the projection is based on strong auto sales as well as the increase in vehicle values.
“That’s projected in this as well as some of the fees that were increased last year that we didn’t actually get on the budget for last year but will be included this time,” the clerk said.
District 4 Magistrate Mark Ranshaw asked how the increase would impact the county budget.
“Excess fees are the only thing from her budget that go in our budget,” County Treasurer Joan Isaacs explained.
Isaacs continued that the county does cover fringe benefits (insurance, retirement and FICA match) as well as elections. As there wasn’t an election in 2021, the treasurer said this year’s election costs should mark the only budgetary increase.
Deputy Judge-Executive Dan Price commended Burnett’s office for their work, particularly in motor vehicle licensing.
“I don’t think Pulaski Countians really understand how a region of 10 or 12 counties come here to purchase vehicles,” he said. “Because of us expanding the drive-thru window capability, it’s certainly reflected in the total amount of excess fees turned over to Pulaski County.”
Burnett in turn thanked the court for the funding to add the drive-thru locations as a convenience for taxpayers.
The clerk’s budget was approved unanimously on a motion from District 5 Magistrate Mike Strunk and second from District 2 Magistrate Mike Wilson. It was passed along with an annual salary cap resolution.
Major Jeff Hancock presented the sheriff’s budget on behalf of Sheriff Greg Speck. At $3.657 million, this year’s budget differed from 2021’s by just a few thousand.
It was approved unanimously on a motion from District 3 Magistrate Jimmy Wheeldon and a second from Ranshaw. The sheriff’s salary cap also passed.
Maj. Hancock began his presentation by commending county road crews, who worked day and night alongside first responders during the recent snowstorm.
“It would be harder for us to do our job if it wasn’t for these guys leading the way and helping clean the roads,” the major said.
The first motion Hancock actually asked for was acceptance of a $100,000 check representing the first installment of excess fees from the sheriff’s office. Another $72,000 can be expected, the major said, once the sheriff’s office has reconciled all accounts for 2021.
In other news, Pulaski County Detention Center Sergeant Rodney Dick also presented Fiscal Court a check for $46,915 in salary reimbursements on behalf of the jail. While PCDC isn’t a fee office like the clerk’s or sheriff’s, Dick told the court that jail administration hopes to be able to continue the practice in the future.
“We try to be a good neighbor as you all have been a good neighbor with us,” he said.