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Madison County Budget Cuts Can't Cover Courthouse Repairs

Officials are wrestling with a shrinking general fund, rising operational costs and aging buildings desperately in need of renovation in Madison County.
Madison County, AR - Officials are wrestling with a shrinking general fund, rising operational costs and aging buildings desperately in need of renovation in Madison County.

A leaking roof is causing the historic county courthouse to crumble.

"This courthouse was built in 1938," says County Judge Frank Weaver. "This is not the only old building that the county owns that is facing repair issues. Several of our buildings are in excess of 20, 25 years old and they're going to need maintenance shortly, to continue."

Weaver says all offices are operating with reduced staff to save cash, but budget cuts made over the last two years aren't enough to cover the repairs and increasing operational costs.

"We cut out the funding to the pet shelter, to the fair board, to the senior center," he says. "We cut 6 total positions out of our county general budget, which has affected the services in every office here."

Sheriff Phillip Morgan lost 2 deputies in as many years, but he still can't afford to staff his jail.

"We need 2 people on it every shift, one jailer and one dispatcher," Morgan says. "Jail standards, they tell us we're going to have to have more personnel in there or they're going to shut us down."

Last year voters shot down a one cent sales tax proposed to ease the financial burden on the county, but the question may appear again on the
November ballot.

"Local government is provided for by the local people," Weaver says. "Either you've got to have more funding, or you've got to cut more services out."

The Quorum Court will hold a third reading of the sales tax proposal July 21st. If it is approved, voters will have a chance to weigh in during the November general election.


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