The Sebastian County Quorum Court took no action to implement a plan to reduce the general fund budget Tuesday, according to County Judge David Hudson.
Justices of the peace passed a motion to evaluate making 3 percent cuts in all general fund budgets during their regular meeting Feb. 20. The purpose of the cuts would have been to free up the funds necessary for the addition of 14 detention center staff members for a future expansion of the Sebastian County Adult Detention Center.
The 2018 cost of a detention center deputy is $48,286 for salary and benefits, with 14 new positions totaling $676,004 annually, according to an article previously published in the Times Record. Hudson said the county judge’s finance office would coordinate the evaluation.
Hudson presented a memo outlining the evaluation during Tuesday's Quorum Court meeting. It states 3 percent of the general fund budget is $766,569. Reducing the general fund budget by 3 percent impacts personnel, operating and capital appropriations. General fund allocations to support personnel comprise 68 percent of the general fund budget, with operations comprising 31 percent and capital comprising 1 percent.
Reducing personnel budgets by 3 percent requires reduction in either part-time or full-time positions or benefits, the memo states. Such reductions require focused attention of each elected official to implement and may impact departmental operations and delivery of services, the memo adds.
"The report that was given just reflected that unless we cut personnel, it's not feasible to get that money from budget reductions, so it basically creates the unresolved issue of ... where the operating cost funding would come from to expand the jail, so that's an unresolved issue," Hudson said.
The memo also states a 3 percent reduction to capital will reduce capital replacement plans in the Sheriff's Office and park and IT departments and is not likely to be sustained on an ongoing basis. A 3 percent reduction of operating budgets totals $182,525. Sebastian County has a history of making additional appropriations in operating budgets annually in the December regular meeting.
"In 2016, a 2 percent reduction was made in general fund appropriation operating budgets totaling $150,181," the memo states. "Year-end additional appropriations were $109,114. In 2017, additional year-end appropriations for operating funds were $204,594. Typically, the county has earmarked $50,000 in our unobligated balance for year-end clean up."
The next regular Sebastian County Quorum Court meeting will take place April 17.