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story.lead_photo.caption Members of the Jefferson County Quorum Court and staff maintain a safe social distance of at least six feet between other people during a meeting in April in Pine Bluff. ( Dale Ellis)

A lengthy agenda moved swiftly as the Jefferson County Quorum Court held its regularly scheduled meeting via Zoom on Monday.

For approximately two months, the meetings have been held on a digital platform, but County Judge Gerald Robinson said that next month, he may move the meetings back to the courthouse.

A special presentation was to be held Monday for the late Justice of the Peace Ginger Herman, but Robinson said he felt Ginger deserved better.

"I didn't feel that we would do it justice by doing a Zoom meeting," said Robinson. "That wasn't personable enough. I think he deserves it, and his family deserves to be present to properly give homage to Dr. Ginger."

Until everyone can gather again, Robinson said, the presentation will be postponed until further notice.

As the meeting resumed, an adjustment to the budget ordinance was made after the incorrect amount from the 6th Division was turned in from Judge Earnest Brown.

Originally, Brown included a reimbursement amount totaling $224,740, which was incorrect. The savings was actually $46,245.

"We certainly apologize for that error," said Brown. "We got anxious and added the reimbursement we got from the state instead of just doing the share of work savings."

The ordinance was approved to amend the 2020 Jefferson County budget to unappropriate funds.

Several county department heads had requested that their funds be appropriated back after completing required furloughs. The prosecuting attorney, district court, assessor's office and the county judge's office all furloughed employees.

Brown used the state's Shared Work Unemployment Compensation Program, which allowed him to cut his staff's hours by at least 10% and have the difference in their salary made up by unemployment compensation.

The appropriation ordinance was approved, with the sum of $868,039 that would be unappropriated from the general fund of the 2020 Jefferson County budget.

During the treasurer's report, county Treasurer Vonysha Goodwin reported the Aug. 31 ending balance as $14,693,156. She also noted the county general balance ending in August was $1,732,802.

"Compared to this time in 2019, the balance in county general was $700,078," said Goodwin. "Our county general balance looked really good at this point compared to prior years."

Robinson pointed out that savings would have been greater had every department furloughed, but he understood why certain departments chose not to.

"Because we made some hard decisions, and I know in the beginning when we made those decisions it was tough, but because of the furloughs, because of the shared work, we're able to be where we are," said Robinson. "We've come through."

Jefferson County Assessor Yvonne Humphrey's request to fill a vacancy in the Real Estate Department was granted. According to Ted Harden of the Budget Finance Committee, the position was already budgeted for.

The Jefferson County coroner's office request for an appropriation in the amount of $7,817 was also approved.

The funds will be used for part-time help, general supplies, janitorial supplies, autopsy expenses and to repair a cooler and the vehicles that belong to the coroner's office.


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