Fiscal court members cast split votes on finance matters

Posted April 24, 2013 at 1:29 pm

Clinton County Fiscal Court held its regular meeting last Thursday, April 18 with all court members present.

During routine business, including voting to pay claims and bills, there were split votes on two issues–one of which resulted in a tie vote, forcing Judge/Executive Lyle Huff to cast a tie-breaking vote.

The court first approved the monthly treasurer’s report, the quarterly report and a list of fund transfers. County Treasurer Dallas Sidwell also presented court members with the 2013-14 working budget for review only, allowing magistrates to suggest any recommended changes prior to voting on the new fiscal year budget.

When the matter of paying claims and bills came up, magistrate Mickey Riddle questioned why the county was giving the rec/park board $10,000 since there wasn’t enough money in the budget. “We don’t have enough money to pay (our) bills,” he said.

Magistrate Ricky Craig echoed Riddle’s assessment.

Judge Huff said, “We can give money to other offices but we can’t give to the park?”

Park Director Bobby Reneau and Park Board Chairman Vince Ostertag were both present at the meeting and spoke on behalf of the park and park board.

Reneau told the court that when he had left the park earlier that afternoon to attend the meeting, he had counted 68 people using the park. “We have done everything possible to hold down costs,” Reneau added.

Magistrate Craig then asked, “What are we going to do about the jail…lay people off?”

Ostertag then said he appreciated the county’s support of the park and understood its financial situation, but noted the number of people who use the facility. He also asked if it might be possible for the park board to better promote the park and the events it supports by use of the county’s website.

Both magistrates Riddle and Craig stressed they supported the park, but their reason for wanting to withhold the $10,000 allotment was due to the county’s financial situation at the current time.

Magistrate Patty Guinn made a motion to approve the claims and bills as presented, including the allotment to the park board. The motion passed on a 4-2 vote with magistrates Terry Buster, Phillip Parrigin and Hershell Key also voting yes and magistrates Riddle and Craig voting no.

County Attorney Michael Rains presented the court with a proposed deed and appraisal for $300 to give .02 hundreds of an acre of land at the Seventy-Six voting house to an adjoining property owner so they (proper owner) could get clear title to the land.

The court then voted, in separate motions, to approve the upcoming fiscal year budgets presented by the library board, extension service and soil conservation district board.

On a motion by Riddle, the court voted 6-0 to enter into a National Purchase agreement with the John Deere company that could be used in purchasing road equipment, possibly at a savings of over 20 percent about some state purchased contract amounts.

County Road Supervisor Jim Pennycuff then addressed the court, requesting approval to purchase a new one-ton four wheel-drive F350 truck for the road department at a cost of $26,724. The funds would have come from a recent $150,000 allotment the county granted (from road aid money) specifically to purchase much needed equipment for the road crew.

Magistrate Riddle, however, said that the first things that should be purchased from the aforementioned allotment should be equipment rather than a vehicle. He said he felt the county should purchase equipment first–such as tractors and a dump truck, adding those items alone would probably take the full amount.

Pennycuff said that the proposed new truck would be to replace a current ‘96 model vehicle that already has 240,000 miles. He added the road department needed such a vehicle to maneuver in and out of some narrower roads when road work is being done. Magistrates Patty Guinn and Terry Buster agreed that such a truck would come in handy on those narrow county roads.

Estimates on some of the other equipment listed as being needed was up to $50,000 for a dump truck and $60,000 for tractors complete with mid-mounts.

A motion to purchase the recommended truck was made by magistrate Buster and the vote ended in a tie with Guinn and magistrate Hershell Key voting yes and magistrates Riddle, Craig and Phillip Parrigin voting no. The motion to purchase failed when Judge Huff broke the tie with a no vote, citing the need for equipment first and then see what, if any, funds were left.

Following the jail discussion, the court entered into a less than five-minute closed session on personnel but took no action.

The next regular meeting of Clinton Fiscal Court is scheduled for May 16 at 5 p.m. and is open to the general public.

During the just over one-hour session, the jail was again discussed at length and a separate article on some actions taken can be found in a separate story beginning on page 1.