By Ray King
After a lengthy discussion, the Jefferson County Quorum Court on Tuesday voted to appropriate what funds are available to operate the juvenile detention center and adult jail but those appropriations will be far short of what Sheriff Lafayette Woods Jr., said were necessary.
Both the Juvenile Detention Center and adult jail are operating on six-month budgets which will run out at the end of June.
During a meeting of the Public Safety Committee, Chairman Jimmy Fisher said the money that will be available for the juvenile center, if tax revenues are what is currently projected, will be $197,945.52. However, the six-month budget for the juvenile center, submitted by Woods, called for spending $906,199.81 which leaves a shortfall of more than $708,000.
Justice of the Peace Conley Byrd asked how long the facility could operate at their current rate of spending.
“We can’t appropriate what we don’t have,” Byrd said, suggesting that the county’s legislative body approve a two-month budget and come back later to see what else can be done.
County Judge Gerald Robinson said that with Governor Asa Hutchinson changing the emphasis in juvenile facilities from detention to therapy, revenues at the county juvenile center have declined and closing it, at least temporarily, is an option.
The adult detention center budget request for the final six months of this year was $1,967,509.60 while available revenues were set at $1.2 million, or a shortfall of over $76,000.
“That’s all there is,” Byrd said. “Now we’ve got to figure out what to do if we don’t get more money.”
With no dissent, the Quorum Court approved a resolution establishing a policy prohibiting the use of excessive force by law enforcement agencies against individuals engaged in non-violent civil rights demonstrations.
The resolution is a condition of Arkansas Community and Economic Development Program funding and the county is applying for a community development block grant.