The Phillips County Quorum Court’s Budget Committee met Monday evening in a rather long session to hear from the county’s elected officials.


The Phillips County Quorum Court’s Budget Committee met Monday evening in a rather long session to hear from the county’s elected officials.
County Coroner Ernest Larry was first up on the agenda. Larry said that he understood that some of the court members had concerns about his office being located inside Kincaid Funeral Home. Larry told the QC members that the coroner’s office had always been located in one of the local funeral homes and he really did not understand why this would be an issue after all of these years.
All calls for a coroner are routed through the Sheriff’s Office before being referred to the coroner.  Larry said that for many years bodies had to be carried around in pickup trucks because there was no other means to transport them to the morgue. Larry took his own money and bought a van for the Coroner’s Office.
“If you have a problem with me being located at a funeral home, then you’ll have to provide me with an office in the courthouse,” said Larry.
Quorum Court member Alma Rattler said that she had someone approach her about this matter and she told them that they needed to bring it before the Quorum Court.
Larry commented that there has always been a problem between local funeral homes and that’s not going to stop.
After some discussion, the budget committee members decided it would be too costly to move the Coroner’s Office and pointed out that there is no space available in the courthouse for an office. They ultimately decided that it would be better to leave the office where it is.
Phillips County Sheriff Ronnie White said that he had a jail employee quit and needed to replace them. The committee approved White’s hiring a full-time control operator.
County Clerk Linda White presented a 10 percent pay increase proposal for all county employees. White explained that the county employees have not had a raise in seven years. Quorum Court member Clausey Myton said he fully supported the measure and that it would not effect the amount we now have in the county general fund, because the county had recently sold the old health department building for over $273,000.
“We need to take care of our employees because they take care of the courthouse business on a day-to-day basis,” said Myton.
The budget committee approved the measure.
County Treasurer Becky Gattas reminded the committee members that the one-cent Port Authority Tax will expire in July 2010 and that the county needs to begin making plans to present the public with a new tax to replace the harbor tax.  This tax is one of the main sources of revenue for the county and other towns in the county. The tax money is used primarily to operate the Phillips County Jail. If the tax fails to be renewed the jail would more than likely be closed, because there would be no operating capital.
The court members approved $1,000 to update the Phillips County Probation Officer’s Office.   This would include new desk and chairs and possibly some more furnishings. Rev. Jarvis Smith, who is the new probation officer for the county, said that county Judge Don Gentry had helped him with some of the refurbishing.
Phillips County Tax Assessor Gloria Jones said she only needed the budget committee’s approval to add a line item to her budget for machinery and equipment. Jones was not asking for any additional money, but to have her money that was omitted from the original budget replaced.  The measure was approved.