Ordinance changing Museum Commission recommended for approval

The Jefferson County Quorum Court moved one step closer to resolving a conflict between existing state law and an ordinance approved in 1996 that sets the number of members and length of members’ terms on the Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Historical Museum Commission.

During committee meetings Tuesday, an ordinance was recommended for approval that would change the number of members on the commission from seven to nine to comply with a section of state law that requires such commissions to have either three, six or nine members, based on the size of the museum and the population of the county.

The proposed ordinance also changes the terms of office for each commissioner from the current seven-year term to a term of three years, with the terms of three of the nine members set to expire Dec. 31 of each year.

According to information provided by the museum, the commission currently has six members, so three more will need to be appointed by County Judge Dutch King, with the concurrence of the Quorum Court.

Current members of the commission and the dates their terms will expire are:

• Anthonette Akins, Dec. 31, 2014.

• Brenda Barnes, Dec. 31. 2014.

• Mark Kalkbrenner, Dec. 31, 2015.

• Rick Joslin, Dec. 31, 2015.

• Pam McFall, Dec. 31, 2016.

• Ruby Poteet, Dec. 31, 2016.

In other business Tuesday night, a proposed ordinance that would give the County Assessor’s Office $5,000 to hire part-time help to scan homestead credits was recommended for approval. The money would come from the Assessor’s Amendment 79 Fund, so new new money or money from county general would be involved.

An item not on the agenda dealing with county government take-home vehicles was also discussed briefly by the county’s legislative body.

Justice of the Peace Lloyd Franklin II raised the issue after sending a letter to King dated Jan. 28 asking for the discussion.

“As you know, and as I have discussed with you and other members of the Quorum Court, it is my opinion that there are several county-owned department vehicles that lack appropriate justification for take-home assignment,” Franklin said in the letter. “Especially in this dreadful economy and with Jefferson County’s seemingly trend of growing operating deficits in our general budget, we cannot continue to sustain the costs associated with insurance, maintenance and fuel for take-home departmental vehicles that are not justifiable.”

Franklin said the court’s Finance Committee last year identified and then cut unused appropriations totaling $513,000 from the current 2014 budget compared to the 2013 budget.

“The discussion of establishing a policy is merely a concerted effort to further identify and curtail unjustifiable spending,” Franklin said in the letter.

Among the things Franklin is suggesting is the establishment of “a carpool in the Office of the County Judge for business use.”

Additionally, he is asking that vehicle purchases be limited, for a complete list of all department take-home vehicles by job descriptions — for example, public safety, county executive, technical services — and a list of all department vehicles that do not have a county decal or that are otherwise unmarked, with the exception of vehicles assigned to the sheriff’s department.