Budget error causes turmoil in Marion County

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YELLVILLE, Ar. — The sheriff of Marion County, Arkansas, says he made the difficult decision to reduce his staff because of a county budgeting error.

Sheriff Clinton Evans sent this in an email release following last week’s Quorum Court:

During last Wednesday’s Marion County Budget Committee meeting, 10% cuts ($152,000 from Sheriff Dept.) were made from January to present. After those cuts were finalized, committee member Justice Vancuren directed the Sheriff’s Department to cut an additional $158,000 to zero out the counties remaining total shortfall. I, (Sheriff Evans) explained that the first cut impacted the Sheriff’s Department budget significantly, trimming the operational funds down to bare bones. This second cut will go into personal services to the point of losing 9-10 employees ranging from jailers, administration and deputies. I can say that these cuts will dramatically affect and hinder services to the people of Marion County. I ask that the residences of Marion County become familiar with this proposal, that the Budget Committee plans on presenting to the Quorum court Tuesday for a vote of passage. If this concerns you even in the slightest, please let the peoples’ voices be heard. Contacting your Justice of the Peace will let them hear your thoughts and feelings to maintain our community’s safety.

Sheriff Clinton Evans

When the county budget for 2020 was created, the carryover fund around $470,000 was added to the budget twice. The county is now trying to make up for the more than $570,000 that was incorrectly budgeted.

Judge John Massey of Marion County says it was an accident.

“It was just a mistake that anybody could’ve made, and it was made and here we are,” said Massey.

Back in April, county department heads agreed to a 10% across the board budget cut to help the county’s general fund. Sheriff Evans of Marion County claims he has already cut $150,000 and from the department and is being asked to cut another $158,000. He claims this cut would cost him 9 of his employees.

Judge Massey says the sheriff is politicizing the issue.

“Every meeting we have, he says he is going to cut personnel, we’re going to cut personnel,” said Massey. “And what that does is scare the public, and that’s what’s happening now, but that is his choice to cut personnel. Everyone’s got to make cuts. And we’re not defunding. We’re making cuts.”

Massey says the sheriff even gave out raises to some employees despite knowing the county’s situation.

“The sheriff gave 28 raises at 50 cents apiece straight across the board,” said Massey.

The issue is being discussed further tonight, August 11, at the quorum court meeting beginning at 6 p.m. at the courthouse.

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