by Max Brantley
Pulaski County Judge Buddy Villines has sent a letter to the mayors of Little Rock, North Little Rock, Maumelle, Sherwood and Jacksonville saying the cities will have to pay two-thirds of the additional $960,000 necessary annually to staff an 80-bed expansion at the County Jail or the beds won't open. The Quorum Court set the county's contribution at one-third.
Here's the letter. More on this as the cities respond.
The county would appear to be flush with money given its annual bonuses to justices of the peace and their recent vote to triple their own travel budget. But the cities provide the bulk of the jail's business and no longer maintain the same individual lockups that once were the norm, so there's a case for their added contribution.
Speaking of the county Quorum Court:
I wrote recently about unhappiness among Republican members of the Quorum Court about Democratic members' push for an increase in the court's travel allowance budget from $4,000 to $12,000, a hefty bump, and remarks by a couple of JPs about their hope for another bonus this year. (CORRECTON: I wrote incorrectly originally that this was the budget for each of the 15 JPs, a big difference.) The Republicans also fought unsuccessfully to put a record of the discussion in the minutes. Outgoing JP Dawne Vandiver, executive director of the Democratic Party, sent me a note on that vote today:
[Republican JP Shane] Mr Stacks requested that the minutes be altered to include a transcription of the Quorum court budget meeting in its entirety. I voted against this measure because I do not feel that it is a prudent use of tax dollars to transcribe all prior and future meetings in their entirety. We can and should continue to make meeting minutes and accompanying audio readily available to both the public and media.
The audio has been available all along and was distributed by Republicans unhappy with the other Democrats.