JPs approve payment of overdue invoice

Friday, July 20, 2018

The Carroll County Quorum Court appropriated $50,000 at its July meeting on Monday to pay an invoice that was submitted almost 17 months ago for mapping software on computers at the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office.

Justices of the Peace voted 10-0 to approve appropriating the money to the county’s emergency 9-1-1 fund, but not without expressing frustration with the situation.

District 3 JP Lamont Richie sponsored the appropriation ordinance and asked his colleagues to approve adding it to the agenda, which they agreed to do.

According to the ordinance, Zetron — a Washington-based company whose website describes it as a critical communications technology company — submitted a quote to the CCSO on April 25, 2016, for installation of a 9-1-1 mapping program on office computers and 20 laptops to be used by CCSO personnel. The ordinance says the quote was approved by the county judge and DCS Communications installed the software and provided training to CCSO staff. DCS submitted an invoice to the county on Feb. 23, 2017, the ordinance says, and the invoice remains unpaid.

DCS is headquartered in Fort Smith. The company’s website describes it as a full service two-way radio sales and service facility.

Richie, who has taken a lead role in drafting the county’s annual budget for the past several years, called it “unconscionable” that the invoice had not been paid. He said he learned of the situation last week.

Richie said the invoice had not been presented to the quorum court’s budget committee “in any way, shape or form.”

District 1 JP Jack Deaton said he felt “blindsided” when he learned of the invoice.

“Stuff like this has just got to stop,” he said. “That’s all there is to it. … I’m trying my best to do my job and keep things legal but, God, it’s getting tough.”

Deaton suggested that the county may have violated state law by agreeing to such a large purchase without competitive bidding.

Sheriff Randy Mayfield, who was in the audience at Monday’s meeting, said most of the sheriff’s office vehicles are equipped with laptops and that the CCSO already has mapping capability through its existing software. He told JPs that he didn’t know who ordered the additional software or why.

County Judge Sam Barr said he approved the quoted price from Zetron but said that to the best of his memory he was told the bill would be paid from the sheriff’s office budget.

On Wednesday, Mayfield said the transition of the county’s 911 and central dispatch operations from the Eastern District Courthouse in Berryville to the building on Hailey Road that houses the sheriff’s office and county detention center is “a county government project that I wasn’t directly involved in.”

A representative of the sheriff’s office, who is no longer employed by CCSO, was more directly involved with the project, according to Mayfield and investigator J.J. Reddick.

Reddick said the unpaid invoice was recently brought to his attention by the vendor and he notified Mayfield.

In other business at Monday’s meeting, JPs:

• approved the second and third readings of an ordinance combining the county’s budget and finance committees into one, five-member committee;

• approved the second and third readings of an ordinance revising in its entirety the Carroll County Employee Handbook;

• approved a resolution restating the quorum court’s rules of procedure regarding the order of business and the submission of agenda items;

• and approved a resolution appointing Jim Hughes, Connie Deaton and Alvin Selleck to the Western Carroll County Ambulance District commission.

All of the votes were 10-0. District 10 JP Larry Swofford was absent.

During the portion of the meeting set aside for public comments, Carroll County Airport manager Michael Pfeiffer said the airport will be applying for a 90/10 matching grant from the Federal Aviation Administration and would like to have a resolution regarding the 10 percent match requirement on the agenda for next month’s quorum court meeting.

Also during public comments, the county’s veteran services officer, Alex Brown, said an increasing number of veterans are requesting assistance with transportation to medical appointments and he is working with local churches to set up a system to accommodate those needs. Brown said he wanted to make JPs aware of his efforts and ensure that there are no legal concerns. In response to a question, Brown said organizations providing transportation should be properly insured and the county would bear no liability.

Sponsored speakers at Monday’s meeting were Ken Trimble of Eureka Springs, who outlined his concerns about the state’s use of herbicides along highways in the county and suggested that a better alternative might be planting wildflowers in conjunction with a state program; and Lonnie Robbins, a resident who lives on Carroll County Road 608. Robbins said residents were promised long ago that the road would be paved and although a portion of it has been, the remainder is in poor condition and residents are faced with a health hazard because of dirt and dust from the road. Other residents who live on CR 608 also raised their hands at Monday’s meeting and expressed concerns similar to Robbins’. Barr said he has discussed the issue with the state and hopes to have the road paved next year if he is re-elected.

During the portion of the meeting reserved for JP comments on non-agenda items, Richie said that after consulting with county attorneys, he believes that the county cannot enforce ordinances regarding hangar rentals at the county airport, although he said the quorum court can exact some assurances from the airport commission tied to county appropriations to the facility. District 7 JP Noreen Watson said her constituents have expressed concerns about criminal activity including illegal drug use and thefts and that they fear reprisals if they report the crimes. Barr told JPs that he had received a call from the Northwest Arkansas Economic Development District asking for the county to appropriate some money to the district. County treasurer Cindy Collins said NWAEDD provides administrative services to the county on grants. She described county appropriations to the economic development district as a “membership fee.” Richie said there will be an appropriation ordinance on the agenda next month.

The quorum court’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday, Aug. 20, at the Carroll County Eastern District Courthouse in Berryville.

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