Quorum Court Update

WASHINGTON COUNTY QUORUM COURT UPDATE

Prepared by Beth Coger for the Washington County Democratic Party Newsletter


 

Before I start with the Quorum Court news, I would like to share very important information that was handed down Thursday from the United States Treasury regarding the final rules on spending money from the American Rescue Plan Act.  This first link takes you to the entire 437 pages of Treasury guidelines.  These rules will govern how the ARPA money may legally be spent.  

 

These guidelines place a huge emphasis on helping those communities that have been, “...disproportionately impacted…along racial, ethnic, and  socioeconomic lines…”  I urge everyone to read these rules, make notes, and write letters to the editor and to all elected officials and let them know how you want your ARPA dollars spent to help the community, because they are your dollars.  

 

When writing letters and talking to your elected representatives, I remind you that not one penny of the $23,229,636 ARPA money we received in 2021 has been spent to help those in our community who are most vulnerable, those who have been disproportionately impacted, and those who need help the most.  You can see here a breakdown on how ARPA money has been allocated to date by our Washington County Quorum Court:  https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1Zsj4uZqNYYeR8sNxHjxVOLrzFvrw6Sg9PAnA37RYaGc/edit?usp=sharing

 

We should be marching in the streets about this, demanding that this money be used to help our community members.  Why are we not doing that?  I’m ready to march.  Are you?  

 

AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN ACT FINAL RULES:https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/SLFRF-Final-Rule.pdf




 

If you’re not up to reading the entire 437 pages, this link takes you to an overview of the final rules which will take effect April 1, 2022.

Overview:  https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/SLFRF-Final-Rule-Overview.pdf

 

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WASHINGTON COUNTY QUORUM COURT NEWS

FOR THE WEEK OF JANUARY 9, 2022

 

All Washington County Quorum Court and Sub-Committee meetings are live streamed on YouTube at the county’s channel which can be found here:   https://www.youtube.com/user/washcoar

 

Despite the surge of Covid cases and our increased hospitalizations, all county meetings are still in-person only; therefore, as much as we need people to come to the meetings, I know that is not a good idea right now.  However, in addition to watching the meetings online, you can still participate by writing and calling your JP and all JPs.  It is very important that they be held accountable for their votes and that they know we, the community, are paying attention.

 

Washington County Code requires a twelve (12) minute public comment time before any vote on an ordinance or resolution.  Additionally, there will be a twelve (12) minute public comment time after each committee meeting.  Even though the agenda says those end  of meeting comments must be related to items on the agenda, that is in direct conflict with 2-32(h) which states:

 

“(h)  There shall also be a twelve-minute public comment period at the end of each committee meeting.  No individual may speak longer than three (3) minutes.)”

 

While the committee chairs may try to keep us from speaking on subject matter that is not on the agenda, they cannot legally do so, and why would they want to do that?  What good is a public comment time that occurs after all discussions have been had and votes cast?  If anyone sitting on the Washington County Quorum Court does not want to hear from the community, they should not be sitting on the Washington County Quorum Court.


 

MONDAY, JANUARY 10, 2022, 6:00 P.M. PERSONNEL COMMITTEE MEETS

Committee members are:  Members are: Robert Dennis, Lisa Ecke, Willie Leming, Shannon Marti, Butch Pond, Evelyn Stafford, and Shawndra Washington. JP Lisa Ecke - Chair  

 

The agenda for tomorrow’s meeting is:

https://www.washingtoncountyar.gov/home/showpublisheddocument/26249/637771539707020906

 

1. CALL TO ORDER AND WELCOME 

2. PRAYER AND PLEDGE 

3. ADOPTION OF AGENDA At the beginning of each meeting, the agenda shall be approved. Any JP may request an item be added or removed from the agenda subject to approval of the Committee. 

4. REQUEST FROM ANGELA LEDGERWOOD (4.1) 1. Pay increase of Administrative Assistant 

5. CHAIRMAN’S REPORT 

6. PUBLIC COMMENT Twelve-minute comment period with a three-minute limit for each individual to comment on items on the agenda. 

7. ADJOURNMENT 

 

Note:  Item No. 4 is a request from the Washington County Animal Shelter to increase the pay of its administrative assistant from $12.91 to $13.63 per hour.  I don’t think any of our county employees should make less than $15.00 per hour, and our animal shelter employees have some of the hardest jobs in the county.  I am writing to all JPs and asking that this ordinance be amended to increase the pay to $15.00 per hour.  

 

MONDAY, JANUARY 10, 2022, IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING PERSONNEL MEETING, THE JAIL & LAW ENFORCEMENT COMMITTEE MEETS

Committee members are:  Members are: Patrick Deakins, Lisa Ecke, Lance Johnson, Willie Leming, Eva Madison, Shannon Marti, and Bill Ussery.  Lance Johnson, Chair

 

The agenda for tomorrow’s meeting is: https://www.washingtoncountyar.gov/home/showpublisheddocument/26251/637771544561684546

 

1. CALL TO ORDER AND WELCOME 

2. ADOPTION OF AGENDA At the beginning of each meeting, the agenda shall be approved. Any JP may request an item be added or removed from the agenda subject to approval of the Committee. 

REPORTS 3. JUVENILE DETENTION • Monthly Statistics Report (3.1) 

4. SHERIFF’S OFFICE • Enforcement Activity Report (4.1) • Detention Activity Report (4.2) • Pre-Trial vs Total Bed Count (4.3) • Population Reports (4.4) 

NEW BUSINESS 

5. AN ORDINANCE APPROPRIATING $315,000 FROM THE AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN ACT FUND (3046) TO THE PASS THROUGH PAYMENTS LINE ITEM IN THE AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN ACT BUDGET (30460568.3014) FOR 2022 Item 22-O-003 (5.1) 

6. (Nothing listed for No. 6)  

7. PUBLIC COMMENT Twelve-minute comment period with a three-minute limit for each individual to comment on items on the agenda. 

8. ADJOURNMENT  


 

TUESDAY, JANUARY 11, 2022, 6:00 P.M., FINANCE & BUDGET COMMITTEE MEETS

Committee members are:  Patrick Deakins, Chair, Sam Duncan – Vice-Chair, Bill Ussery, Lance Johnson, Shawndra Washington, Sean Simons, and Jim Wilson.

 

The agenda for Tuesday’s meeting is:

https://www.washingtoncountyar.gov/home/showpublisheddocument/26253/637771546085701663

1. CALL TO ORDER AND WELCOME 

2. PRAYER AND PLEDGE 

3. ADOPTION OF AGENDA At the beginning of each meeting, the agenda shall be approved. Any JP may request an item be added or removed from the agenda subject to approval of the Committee. 

REPORTS 

4. TREASURER’S REPORT – BOBBY HILL (4.1-4.7) 

5. EMPLOYEES’ INSURANCE REPORT – CHARLES ANGEL (5.1-5.3) 

6. COMPTROLLER’S REPORT – SHANNON WORTHEN (6.1-6.2) 

 

UNFINISHED BUSINESS 

7. AN ORDINANCE APPROPRIATING $256,000 FROM THE AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN ACT FUND (3046) TO THE PASS THROUGH PAYMENTS LINE ITEM IN THE 2021 AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN ACT BUDGET (30460568.3014) FOR THE HOMESTEAD SUBDIVISION Item 21-O-098 (7.1)   (Note:  This is the Jim Wilson ordinance that wants to use American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) dollars to pay for sewer improvements to a private subdivision near West Fork.  This $256,000 is for money for preliminary work.  This subdivision sits inside JP Wilson’s district and I have copies of correspondence obtained through FOIA that show the plan by JP Wilson and the people in the subdivision is to come back to the court and ask for the full $2.232 million to fund new sewer pipes and other wastewater improvements that benefit the homeowners there.

 

The following agenda item No. 8 limits funding for water and sewer to public water and sewer only.  This ordinance is for a private group.  This should be tabled or moved on the agenda until after Item No. 8 because if No. 8 passes, these two ordinances would be in conflict.  Or, would this ordinance still move forward?  Contact your JP for more insight on this.

 

8. AN ORDINANCE ESTABLISHING GUIDELINES FOR THE EXPENDITURE OF AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN ACT FUNDS Item 21-O-129 (8.1)  The first paragraph of this ordinance reads as follows:   “WHEREAS, the County desires to establish guidelines for the appropriation of monies from the American Rescue Plan Act Fund (“ARPA”) received from the U.S. Treasury in 2022.”   

 

We still have $4,663,864.00 (Plus earned interest) remaining of ARPA 2021 funds. As it’s currently written, those funds would not be governed by this ordinance.

 

(Note:  This is an ordinance that, if passed, will control the spending for ALL ARPA dollars.  The current ordinance can be read in its entirety at the agenda link above.  Basically though, this would give 82.5% of those funds for the sole purpose of supporting all County related expenditures and all relevant public water and sewer requests; and,  the remaining 17.5% ARPA funds, subject to the existing County, State, and Federal eligibility requirements, would be available to support funding requests by all other non-governmental organizations for 2022.

 

Questions we need answered:

  1.  What is included in “...all County related expenditures and all relevant public water and sewer requests?”  Could a jail expansion be considered a “related” county expenditure, and who gets to define what qualifies as a “related county expenditure?”

  2. 17.5% of what amount of ARPA funds?  

  3. Why does the ordinance limit the non-governmental organizations funding to the year 2022 only?  We are scheduled to receive another $23+M this year which could be used for assistance to these agencies in 2023 and all the way up to December 31, 2026.  If this ordinance passes, will it mean our nonprofit boots-on-the-ground people will not be able to get additional funding?

 

9. AN ORDINANCE DE-APPROPRIATING ARPA MONEY FROM VARIOUS BUDGETS AND FUNDS; AND APPROPRIATING THAT MONEY BACK TO THE AMERICAN RESCUE ACT PLAN FUND (3046) FOR 2022 Item 22-O-001 (9.1) Note:  This returns unspent ARPA money from various line item budgets to the American Rescue Plan Act Fund.

 

10. AN ORDINANCE APPROPRIATING $233,151.12 FROM THE AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN ACT FUND (3046) TO VARIOUS LINE ITEMS IN THE JUVENILE DETENTION CENTER BUDGET FOR 2022 Item 22-O-002 (10.1) Note:  This continues funding for the JDC to use $150 weekly bonuses, $500 referral incentives, and $1,500 sign-on bonuses to address its employment issues in 2022

 

11. AN ORDINANCE APPROPRIATING $315,000 FROM THE AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN ACT FUND (3046) TO THE PASS THROUGH PAYMENTS LINE ITEM IN THE AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN ACT BUDGET (30460568.3014) FOR 2022 Item 22-O-003 (11.1) Note:  This is to continue funding (by using ARPA dollars) to Returning Home for its program to assist alleged parole violators to keep them out of the jail.  This program was initially funded in 2021 from the general fund.

 

12. AN ORDINANCE APPROPRIATING $79,572 FROM THE UNAPPROPRIATED RESERVES OF THE GENERAL FUND (1000) TO VARIOUS LINE ITEMS IN THE COUNTY JUDGE BUDGET FOR 2022 Item 22-O-004 (12.1) Note:  This funds the Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee’s coordinator’s salary.

 

13. AN ORDINANCE APPROPRIATING $5,676.30 FROM VARIOUS FUNDS TO VARIOUS BUDGETS WITHIN THE TAX COLLECTOR’S OFFICE FOR 2022 Item 22-O-005 (13.1) Note:  This corrects miscalculations that resulted from the implementation of the 2022 budget controls in the Office of the Tax Collector.

 

14. AN ORDINANCE APPROPRIATING $12,000 FROM THE UNAPPROPRIATED RESERVES OF THE GENERAL FUND (1000) TO THE SPECIAL LEGAL LINE ITEM IN THE COUNTY ATTORNEY BUDGET FOR 2022 Item 22-O-006 (14.1) Note:  This is to increase the pay for interpreters who work with attorneys at the WCJDC. 

 

15. PUBLIC COMMENT Twelve-minute comment period with a three-minute limit for each individual to comment on items on the agenda. 

 

16. ADJOURNMENT