After several months of summer heat, the Crawford County Prosecutor’s Office will soon have its central heating and air-conditioning system replaced.
Prosecutors and staff working in the office at 206 S. Third St. in Van Buren have been dealing with a failing air-conditioning unit since July.
Crawford County justices of the peace approved during the budget meeting Monday night a request by Prosecutor Marc McCune to have the system replaced.
Money for the cooling system will come from the Crawford County Circuit Clerk’s Office.
McCune received several bids to replace or fix the system, including one for $6,878 from AtchleyAir, and three from Tom’s Heating and Air.
When asked by justices during the meeting about his preference, McCune said it was up to them to decide. He added that Tom’s had done most of the work previously for the office.
"I just want to have the system fixed," McCune said.
Tom’s gave a bid of $4,240 to fix the system using used parts, and two bids of $5,865 and $6,840 for new systems with different size units.
After some debate, justices originally voted to approve the largest bid for a new unit to come from the county general fund, against the protests of JP Carrie Jernigan.
Jernigan wanted to pay for the project from the building and maintenance fund, which contains $18,000 according to Crawford County Judge John Hall.
"This is the problem with the county," Jernigan said, clearly frustrated. "We have $18,000 right there. Why not take the money out of that fund, and if he needs more money later, we approve it then, if it’s reasonable?"
Hall said the building fund money was needed for general maintenance for the rest of the year.
Jernigan’s concern, she said, was maintaining enough money in county general to provide for pay raises for county personnel - a topic that has been under discussion for several months.
It has been five years since the county last gave a pay raise, said Crawford County Clerk Teresa Armer.
Before the budget meeting ended Monday night, Crawford County Circuit Clerk Sharon Blount-Baker offered to pay for the system from one of her office funds, to conserve County General Fund monies.
The original motion was rescinded and Blount-Baker’s offer approved.
During the following quorum court meeting, JPs approved the budget and heard a request from Nickie Harding with the Crawford County Extension Office.
Harding is looking to add a third position to her staff, and asked JPs to consider contributing money that would go toward the position salary - an additional cost of $24,000, Harding said.
Harding said the person placed in the position would oversee the county’s 4-H groups, and it was necessary to continue to provide programming for that organization.
Harding is the only extension agent serving in the office, but another agent has been hired to begin in October, she said.
While the extension office has enough money in a carryover fund to pay for one year of the salary, Harding was looking for a commitment from JPs that they would fund the position in 2017 and following years.
Several JPs told Harding that the court was unable to make any promises about upcoming budgets.
"If there’s any money to help this program, this is one of the most important programs in the county in my opinion," said JP Butch Barnes, to several nods of agreement. "But you have to understand, if we ain’t got it, we ain’t got it."
JPs did promise Harding to consider the position and help fund its salary if any money was available in the future.