Dispatch move ‘an absolute mess’

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

For months, word has been that the transition of Carroll County’s 911 and central dispatch functions into new space at the sheriff’s office/detention center was just a couple of weeks away.

Well, not so much.

District 3 Justice of the Peace Lamont Richie, who chairs the county’s budget committee, told the Carroll County Quorum Court on Monday that he has looked into the situation and he isn’t pleased.

“It’s a mess,” Richie told his fellows JPs at the quorum court’s September meeting. “It’s an absolute mess.”

Originally, the transition was expected to cost $470,000, Richie said. Now, however, it may be significantly more expensive.

For example, he said Harris, the company that the county has contracted with to provide hardware for the new dispatch center, recently issued a $36,400 change order because of an equipment issue. When he investigated further, Richie said the work necessitating the change order had already been performed.

Richie said the budget committee met recently to discuss the issue. The consensus, he said, was that the biggest problem was the lack of a designated project manager. To that end, Richie said Sam Ward has agreed to take on the role of project manager.

Ward spoke at Monday’s meeting as well.

“I think we’re not in super horrible shape,” Ward said, although he repeated Richie’s statement that “what is there now is a mess.”

Ward said there is an issue with the license for one of the county’s

towers and possibly more. He said he believes the project can be completed but declined to give a time frame.

Richie brought up another looming issue later in the meeting, discussing an $18 annual garbage fee that will be charged to every residence and business in Carroll County beginning next year and possibly continuing for more than 30 years. Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox ruled in April that the annual fee must be collected to repay bonds that were defaulted on by the Ozark Mountain Solid Waste District and to pay the court-appointed receiver.

In addition to the annual fee charged to residents and business owners, Richie said the county will bear additional costs. Since the fee is to be charged for every dwelling and business in the six counties that were part of the solid waste district, Richie said county officials will have to conduct a physical count each year.

And he said, the county has no recourse.

“There’s nothing we can do,” he said. “It’s over with.”

In other business Monday, JPs:

• approved the second and third readings of an ordinance amending a section of the Carroll County Employee Policy Manual regarding longevity payments;

• approved the first reading of an ordinance amending a previous ordinance regarding the leasing of road graders to clarify the number of graders involved;

• approved a supplemental appropriation ordinance appropriating $20,000 to the Eureka Springs Carnegie Library to operate the Raising a Reader program;

• approved a supplemental appropriation ordinance amending the 2017 budget and appropriating additional amounts to several departments;

• approved a supplemental appropriation ordinance amending the 2017 budget and transferring funds within departments;

• approved an appropriation ordinance amending the 2017 budget and appropriating an additional $155,000 to the county election fund for new voting equipment;

• approved a resolution authorizing the adoption and implementation of new voting equipment;

• and approved authorizing County Judge Sam Barr to communicate with Ritter Communications regarding its request for a franchise to offer video services to customers in unincorporated areas of Carroll County, specifically that under Arkansas law no franchise is required for it to do so.

The vote on each item was 9-0, with the exception of the ordinance regarding the employee policy manual. The vote on that ordinance was 8-0, with District 4 JP Marty Johnson abstaining. District 1 JP Jack Deaton and District 11 JP John Howerton were absent.

The quorum court’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 16, at the Carroll County Eastern District Courthouse in Berryville.

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