Lincoln County approves $3 million budget


STAR CITY — The Lincoln County Quorum Court on Monday approved a $3,049,105 operating budget for 2013 — about 44 percent less than last year’s budget total.

The budget includes $2,226,760 in appropriated funds for the general fund, $1,672,804 for the road fund, and $427,376 for the solid waste fund.

The general fund appropriates $606,360 for the sheriff’s department, nearly the same as 2012, and $379,156 for the county jail, more than $21,000 less than last year.

Lisa McGehee, the county judge’s executive assistant, explained that health insurance for county employees (who request to be on the plan) is rising from $360 per month to $560 per month per employee. Each employee pays a flat rate of $60 per month into the plan, which has a $2,000 deductible. McGehee said she “shopped around” last year and was able to get a lower price.

However, the $560 per month plan was the cheapest she could find this year. She explained that the insurance company paid out $130,000 this year in claims when the county paid in only $80,000.

Justices of the Peace Edwin Branson, Brad Henley, Kip Dutton, Paul Carter, Phillip Thomas, David Rochell and Lee Spikes voted to pass the ordinance, while Drew Steed cast the lone “no” vote. Burl Dean Robertson didn’t attend the meeting.

Solid waste fee hike

The court, with Steed again casting the only “no” vote, passed another ordinance raising solid waste fees from $13.38 to $17.50 per month, all taxes and fees included, as of Jan. 1, 2013. Since January 2010, the county has billed solid waste customers on a quarterly basis instead of a monthly basis in order to save money on postage. The quarterly rate now goes from $40.13 to $52.50. However, residents may still pay on a monthly basis if they so choose.

The court unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the county judge to request the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department to dedicate a memorial to the late Leon Bennett of Star City.

Bennett, a 32-year-old employee of Mobley Construction Co. of Morrilton, was killed in a work accident on Oct. 20 killed while working on the Interstate 530 and U.S. 425 South connector, about five miles south of Star City.

In another matter, the justices passed a resolution to redistribute Act 833 funds from the Gould Fire Department to the Wells Bayou and Grady fire departments.

County Judge Charles Capps explained that the money is being moved because Gould’s fire department is no longer certified, a requirement to receive the funds. Capps also said that the Wells Bayou and Grady fire departments should get the extra funds because those departments have been responding to Gould fires.

Capps added that the Intergovernmental Council, which consists of the county judge and the mayors of Star City, Gould and Grady, approved of the transfer of funds. The resolution notes that “as soon as Gould is able to be certified, the Intergovernmental Council will meet again to vote to turn the Act 833 funding back over to the Gould City Fire Department.”

The Arkansas State Legislature passed Act 833 in 1991 to supplement funding for local volunteer fire departments by collecting a percentage from fire insurance premiums. The Act requires that the Intergovernmental Cooperation Council of each county then recommend to the Quorum Court how much each fire department should receive.