Hot topics surface at fiscal court meeting


It took just over seven minutes to cover regular agenda items during Tuesday’s Fiscal Court meeting, but the meeting continued for another hour and a half in what often became a heated exchange amongst fiscal court members. Before it ended, several issues plaguing past agendas finally saw some resolution.

County Judge Executive Larry Russell Bryant added nine separate items to the mix, including a vote to move the Squires cemetery and the approval of an occupational tax position, which have been included in fiscal court meetings for several months.

The first item during other business included discussion on the Squires cemetery being moved from the commerce park and moving it to Union Cemetery. The last fiscal court discussion on the cemetery ended in a split vote after EDA board chairman Larry Walker presented an update on the project.

With EDA members present in the audience, discussion began when magistrate Daryl Flatt said he and EDA members requested to speak with members of the family connected to the cemetery. A family member had written a letter explaining the family had no issue with the cemetery being moved. Flatt expressed he still did not like the idea of the cemetery being moved.

Just before a motioned was called, magistrate Billy Coffey said he still had not changed his mind on moving the cemetery and had discussed with multiple people about the history in the cemetery and those buried there.

A vote to allow for the cemetery relocation passed with five yes votes from Daryl Flatt, Sammy Baker, Chris Reeder, Terry Hadley and Judge Bryant and three no votes from Tony Denton, Billy Coffey and Mark Humphress.

Bryant brought up the appointment of a finance officer, which led to a lengthy conversation. The finance officer recently resigned, leaving the position vacant.

Bryant recommended they combine the full-time finance officer position with a newly created part-time position for an occupational tax director, and increasing the salary to $20 an hour. The court just recently approved the part-time occupational tax director job but the position had not yet been filled.

Reeder questioned how they could combine the positions, which would eliminate one part-time person, when they just recently asked to make the part-time tax director job a new full-time position, saying they needed extra help in the office.

Bryant responded by explaining after the position is hired and if help is need after, then the fiscal court can discuss getting more help since the office will have more income through the occupational tax.

The position of the occupational tax director has been discussed for several meetings and was previously agreed to be a part-time county position. The magistrates began to discuss why the position had not been filled yet.

Coffey said they had received at least one application for the position. Bryant said, “I have never seen it.” Several magistrates said the application had been in their packet, which is provided by the judge’s office.

The application led to tense words being said amongst the magistrates as Humphress criticized a weekly article Bryant has published, adding, “You doubt us and doubt us.” Bryant responded, “Do your job Mark.”

Reeder spoke up in the overlapping comments, “Judge, everything does not go the way you want it to go.”

Hadley urged the group to work together and said he was trying to get a motion to be put forward for only the position of finance officer.

At the end of the discussion, the appointed finance officer will not have any other titles. With some confusion towards what to vote on since the pay was already in place, the magistrates then voted on the pay and approved it at the current rate of $14 an hour.

The court agreed that the judge has the authority to appoint who he wants for finance officer and he announced the appointment of Benisha Johnson.

From there, Bryant brought up the salary for the deputy judge executive.

Bridget Compton was originally hired as administrative assistant and Bryant later added the appointment of deputy judge executive. While the judge can make the appointment, it is up to the fiscal court to set a salary for the position and no salary had been set for the new title.

Magistrates said Compton has been getting overtime hours. She also serves as solid waste coordinator and fiscal court clerk.

Flatt spoke about the issue of overlapping titles and segregation of duties as some work done by the administrative assistant falls under deputy judge. Flatt said if Compton wanted to resign as administrative assistant the court would then discuss a salary for the deputy judge position

Magistrates again erupted into multiple comments regarding how the overtime should not be present and how Compton’s time would be divided if she continued with multiple roles. Bryant said he would take time to review positions for the offices and no motion was made in regards for the salary.

The item for occupational tax director was then discussed once more. Several magistrates had asked that the position be advertised, but once an advertisement was published they said it included requirements they had not approved. Flatt made the motion to advertise the position again with the approved job description and magistrates would conduct interviews. Flatt also reiterated that it would be best that this position stands separately from the financial officer position.

The motion also included the job to be limited to 24 hours a week and for the personnel committee to sit in on the interview. The motion was seconded and approved.

Other items approved included a bid to replace the fire alarm system within the county jail. A single bid from AAA Systems for just under $55,000 was approved.

The court approved a preliminary application for a grant that would be used toward a fairground project of up to $750,000.

The Jim Blair center key deposit return was discussed to fully explain the process renting the center, which includes paying the full amount of rent plus a $100 deposit. After use of the center, the renter will be reimbursed for the deposit if the center is left in a clean manner.

A motion was made and approved to remove the deposit as it was appearing to be too much for renters. Instead, renters will be placed on a list if the center is left disorganized, which would not allow them to rent the center again. This will be revisited in six months.

A hazard mitigation plan resolution that would include receiving some relief if Adair County was in a natural disaster like a flood or tornado was approved. Also approved was the position of part-time 911 workers and advertisement for snow/salt drivers.

A motion was approved to advertise bids for a new snow truck for the road department.

Thank you for supporting local journalism.
Click here to Subscribe.
Click here to donate.