The City of Van Buren has agreed to update its agreement with Crawford County to allow for the hiring of an additional district court clerk.
Aldermen voted 6-0 Thursday night at a called meeting to amend its interlocal agreement with the county. The agreement approved in 2016 places district court clerks solely under the employment of the City of Van Buren with a $234,633.72 yearly contribution by Crawford County for the cost of employment.
In March, Crawford County justices of the peace approved a $30,000 increase in the contribution that goes toward district court clerk salaries to allow Crawford County District Court Judge Chuck Baker to hire an additional clerk.
Baker told the city council that former District Court Judge Steven Peer had requested the additional clerk for a couple of years because of the increased workload. Finally, the county was able to appropriate the funding.
“The district court is overwhelmed,” Baker said when the county approved the funds. “We handle 27,000 cases a year and we do that with the same number of employees we’ve had for years and years and years.”
Baker said his district court was the second busiest in the state based on caseload per judge. The office was three months behind in processing when Baker took up the office at the beginning of the year, he said.
Mayor Bob Freeman said new state software and the recently expanded Crawford County Detention Center has increased the district court’s workload.
“We are very appreciate of the quorum court for paying their share to make this happen,” Freeman said.
“And, the women in the office who do the heavy lifting appreciate it,” Baker said.