Quorum committee rejects proposed ordinance on vehicle info

A proposed ordinance that would have required Jefferson County offices and departments to provide the quorum court with an annual list of all the vehicles assigned to that office or department failed to get through the court’s finance committee Tuesday afternoon.

Committee Chairman Herman Ginger called for a vote on the proposal three times and was met with silence from the other committee members: Sissy Granderson, Vannette Johnson, Ted Harden and Paul Jones, who was filling in for Edward Spears, who was absent.

Justice of the Peace Dr. Conley Byrd sponsored the proposed ordinance, and when asked to explain it, said the information was something that several members of the county’s legislative body had been asking for for a long time.

“I’ve heard talk about this for several years,” Byrd said.

As it was proposed, the ordinance would have required that each office or department submit a list containing the year, make and model of all vehicles; the vehicle identification number; license plate number; whether or not the vehicle is a take-home vehicle; the beginning and ending mileage of the vehicle on an annual basis; and whether or not the vehicle has a Jefferson County emblem on the doors.

Byrd said the proposed ordinance failed to include the position and name of the person who drove the vehicle.

“This doesn’t preclude anybody from having a vehicle,” Byrd said. “I understand that in years past, salaries had to be cut and some people were given cars as a way to supplement those salaries.”

He said as a former state employee, he had to account for the miles he drove a state vehicle and he was simply asking that county employees do the same.

County Attorney Jackie Harris said state law would not prohibit the county from adopting an ordinance that is more stringent that state statutes but the proposal appeared to conflict with a 2005 ordinance adopted by the quorum court regarding emblems on vehicles. That ordinance exempted vehicles belonging to the sheriff’s office, road department and others and that conflict would have to be addressed.

Byrd said the proposed ordinance would not require the county vehicles have emblems or decals, “It only requires reporting to us whether it does or not.”

Asked by Ginger what benefit the proposed ordinance would provide for the county, Byrd said it would provide the quorum court and citizens of the county with information on who uses and are assigned to county vehicles.

In other business, a proposed appropriation ordinance that would increase the county building’s budget by $31,500 was recommended for approval. Those funds will be used to cover a new chiller for the air conditioning unit at the courthouse and unanticipated elevator repair expenses.

Also recommended for approval was a proposed appropriation ordinance that will increase the county clerk’s budget by $6,000 too pay for maintenance and operation of software equipment, and a resolution appointing John Mitchell to the Pine Bluff-Jefferson County Historical Museum Commission to fill the unexpired term of the late Rick Joslin was also recommended for approval. Mitchell will serve until Dec. 31, 2015.

All the items recommended for approval will be voted on Monday night when the quorum court meets for their regular monthly session.

In addition to Spears, Justices of the Peace Lloyd Franklin III and Morris Caldwell were absent Tuesday night.