Crawford County justices of the peace on Monday approved an additional $10,000 for county electrical costs.
During their budget committee meeting and quorum court, JPs approved a request from Crawford County Judge Dennis Gilstrap for an additional $10,000 from the county general fund to pay for electrical costs for the courthouse and the new circuit clerk annex for the remainder of the year.
In his request, Gilstrap noted that the county had only $6,886.51 in its fund for electrical costs for the remainder of the year. With the addition of the new circuit clerk complex, electrical costs were higher than expected, he said.
Crawford County Circuit Clerk Sharon Blount-Baker moved from the courthouse into the old county jail in August after it was remodeled for her use.
During budget committee, JP Elaina Damante posed a question about how utilities are paid by the county.
“All of our other outlying (department) buildings pay for their own utilities,” Damante said. “My question is, what is our pattern? What constitutes who we pay utilities for and who we don’t?”
JP Mary Blount, head of the budget committee, answered that normally the county would not pay utilities for a department housed outside of the courthouse, but this was an extenuating circumstance.
“I just think this was a unique situation, (with) a new building and unexpected costs,” Blount said.
Blount-Baker used her own department funds to pay for most of the remodel costs to the old jail. Both Gilstrap and Damante commended her for that action.
“This (inquiry) is in no way meant to hammer that department,” Damante said.
Gilstrap requested that the issue be taken up during the upcoming meetings for the 2018 budget, and the request was approved unanimously by all present JPs.
JPs will hold the 2018 budget meetings on Nov. 2, 7, 9 and 14. Budget training is set for Oct. 10.
Also approved was a request from Crawford County Treasurer Beverly Pyle for $80,000 to be removed from her automation fund to pay for a new generator, related equipment and installment for the county courthouse.
All Crawford County offices in the courthouse lost power, phones and computer access for several days in July after a power surge knocked out the building’s electricity.
Pyle had been thinking about using money from her department fund to pay for the generator before the power surge, but “that’s what really sealed the deal for me,” she said.
A power surge or loss of power is costly to the county and hard on technical equipment and hardware such as computers, Pyle said.