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The Pulaski County Budget Committee moved the now completed budget to the full Quorum Court after confirming the sheriff's office budgets among other final items Thursday.

Committee Chair Donna Massey said she has high hopes for the budget come the full Quorum Court meeting Tuesday.

"I think we had a few setbacks, maybe not even setbacks but things that we had to iron out, but it's a budget. It's $82 million," Massey said. "So, you've got to make sure that you're treating people fairly as best you can and making sure that the budgets are right so that people can operate their departments efficiently."

The collaborative effort began on Oct. 8 with a meeting to pass department budgets with no impact on the general fund. Since then, there have been four meetings discussing the budget.

After hearing from Comptroller Mike Hutchens that the budget proposed by the sheriff's office was affordable, the committee passed the department's enforcement and detention budgets unanimously.

Justice of the Peace Phil Stowers took issue with the increase in the sheriff's budgets last week because, after asking other departments to limit increases, he felt it would be unfair to allow an increase in any other department unless absolutely necessary.

However, Stowers said he realized the reasons they were asking for increases were valid.

"At the end of the day, I thought that, after looking at it for another week, that their request for increases were not unreasonable or irrational, and I thought it was the right thing to do," Stowers said. "The reason it did deserve extra scrutiny is when everyone else is toeing the line and they're asking for an increase, I just think we have to take a step back and really make sure that we analyze that."

Working together as a group has helped the committee finalize the budget that will appear at the November meeting as planned, Massey said.

"Sometimes things rise up that you're not aware of, and what you do is you come together and you work it out, which is what we did," Massey said. "And tonight was a very smooth budget hearing reconvening from last week, and I was very happy and actually a little shocked. I was not thinking it would go as smooth."

During the meeting, the committee voted 6-1 to amend the budget to not give elected officials a raise.

The lone vote not to amend the budget, Justice of the Peace Judy Green, told other justices she would be voting against the motion because Quorum Court members make was less than county workers,.

Stowers supported the amendment because the employees of the county would not receive a raise in pay.

"I supported that because, if we're not going to be able to give our employees a raise, we as elected officials should not accept any kind of an increase we might receive," Stowers said.

The final change to the budget came in Justice of the Peace Julie Blackwell's motion to move a bailiff from one court to another, and it was passed unanimously.


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