Crawford County justices of the peace approved budget requests Monday night from both juvenile services and the election commission, two items that have been hotly debated for several months.
During the Crawford County Quorum Court and prior budget meeting, JPs discussed and approved a $100,000 budget request from the Crawford County Election Commission, and an amended $20,000 request from juvenile services.
Both items have been on the table for the past several budget committee meetings, but continued to be tabled because of questions of use and county financial concerns by JPs.
JPs first approved the request by the election commission, leaving only $47,828.14 in the County General Fund.
“I think it’s time we give them their budget and move on,” said JP Elaina Damante.
In previous meetings, the election request was tabled over questions about whether the money was needed and how it would be spent.
According to the letter of request from Crawford County Election Commissioner Bill Taylor, the money will go toward salaries for poll workers, printing and office supplies, and parts and repairs for voting machines.
A portion also will go to pay the $15,000 contract for an election coordinator who only will work through the end of the year to help with upcoming elections.
JPs also approved an amended request from juvenile services.
Crawford County Juvenile Office originally requested $50,000 to go toward unexpected additional costs the office was experiencing because of four juveniles who had to be detained while awaiting psychological evaluations.
When the request was made, it was set up to come out of the County General Fund, but Circuit Judge Mike Medlock, who uses a portion of the money budgeted to juvenile services, suggested JPs look at taking the money from the Jail and Law Enforcement Fund.
According to Crawford County Treasurer Beverly Pyle, there is about $1.3 million in the law enforcement fund, but only about $665,000 of that is unappropriated.
Revenue for Crawford County’s law enforcement fund comes from the one-quarter cent voter-approved sales tax to pay for maintenance of the jail and general law enforcement needs.
Medlock noted that the money requested is to go toward detention services.
“We don’t call juveniles prisoners, but that’s what this is going for is jail services,” Medlock said.
Crawford County Attorney Chuck Baker told JPs that using the law enforcement fund for juvenile detention was within the use description.
JP Lloyd Cole cautioned against using money from the fund before it was clear what costs for maintaining the new jail, set for completion in November, will be.
Crawford County Chief Deputy Sheriff Jim Damante told JPs that there were a number of costs on the horizon for the new jail, and the sheriff’s department already was working to cut costs.
“We’re trying to save as much as we can to make sure we can get this jail up and running,” Damante said.
JP Shane Griffin suggested JPs approve a smaller amount as a compromise, and Medlock agreed.
A motion by JP Carrie Jernigan to approve $25,000 to juvenile services from the law enforcement fund was approved.