The Phillips County Quorum Court met Tuesday night to discuss the animal control appropriations, 2014's projected revenue, and a discussion on the 2014 county health insurance. The meeting was adjourned only 40 minutes into session and during that short time, JPs came and went as they pleased, creating the non-passage of ordinances and diversion of discussion on the 2014 budget.
The Phillips County Quorum Court met Tuesday night to discuss the animal control appropriations, 2014's projected revenue, and a discussion on the 2014 county health insurance. The meeting was adjourned only 40 minutes into session and during that short time, JPs came and went as they pleased, creating the non-passage of ordinances and diversion of discussion on the 2014 budget. While the meeting began with 7 JPs, one unexpectedly left the meeting only seconds before the vote on the third reading of the appropriation of $25,000 for the County Animal Shelter Fund of 2013 amendment. Lenora Mitchell never returned. County Judge Don Gentry later noted in a discussion about the questionable procedures regarding the treatment by the quorum court about the animal control issue, "Mrs. Mitchell killed it when she walked out." Immediately following the vote on animal control appropriations, Justice C.R. Walker entered the room at 6:10 p.m. and Betty Brimley showed up at 6:20, over 15 minutes following the first discussion Next on the agenda was a discussion on the 2014 revenue projections. J.P. Teresa Morgan noted that there is a large discrepancy in the county finances. While Morgan maintains that actual bank account figures amount to over $410,000, she holds that this is $300,000 more than what the county treasurer is reporting to the quorum court. As a result, she moved to bring in an outside auditor for up to $5,000 to review county records, "but the quorum court wants to pick the auditor out," said Morgan. "The only thing we are sitting here for is to operate the county. My thing is we don't have a clue and it makes us all look real ignorant." Helena World readers should note that the supposed ambiguousness of the county finances did not prevent the same JPs from appropriating a $2,000 bonus for all county employees and elected officials in a previous meeting. Gentry commented that he wanted to extend the budget to February 2014, "To see what kind of budget we can make...at some point we have to make a budget...we have to know how much money we got and how much tax income we are going to get, hopefully, and that is what we got." Morgan then related, "We need to set down and make some rules and regulations so that people can't just transfer any amount of money without us knowing it because you are taking our responsibility away from us." The motion for an audit on the county finances was passed with seven votes for and none against. The third item on the agenda included a discussion on the increase in health insurance for county employees at a rate of 4.5 percent. Morgan noted, "Well what are we going to do. We don't have enough to pass it. There is not much we can do right now." Only 17 minutes into the meeting, a J.P. made the motion to adjourn. Gentry reminded the quorum that they needed to pass this by January 1 or county employees and elected officials would lose their insurance. The health insurance ordinance passed. The meeting ended with the reading of an ordinance to extend the budget to February 28, 2014. As Judge Gentry was in mid sentence, Morgan interrupted with a motion to adjourn.