The Pulaski County government will determine in the coming weeks how millions of federal funds will be distributed.
Pulaski County received just over $ 76.1 million in federal covid-19 aid funds from the American Rescue Plan.
At Tuesday’s Pulaski County Quorum Court meeting, justices of the peace refused to suspend the rules to hear a late order allocating $ 765,000 in funds for a one-time bonus payment to essential county employees.
Some justices of the peace, such as Staci Medlock, have expressed concern about the delay in filing the order.
“I just hate that I didn’t have time to review it, so I’m going to have to say no,” Medlock said when called to vote.
Ultimately, the vote failed 8-2 with five abstentions.
Barry Hyde, a Pulaski County judge, said he was upset the quorum tribunal had missed an opportunity to make the payment to county workers.
“I was shocked,” Hyde said. “I’ve been your county judge for eight years now, and I can tell you that in eight years I don’t remember the quorum tribunal not allowing a late filing to be heard. the order was not put on the agenda a week in advance. “
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette received the order at 5:15 p.m., 45 minutes before Tuesday’s meeting.
Justice of the Peace Phil Stowers said he received the order late, saying he was also concerned that the law was rushed.
“I think it is obvious from the vote count that the majority of my colleagues agreed with me on this issue, that it was not good policy or good money management. of taxpayers spending nearly a million dollars on an item that was presented to the agency less than an hour before the meeting and had not been considered by the committee, ”Stowers said.
While the sum is large by normal county standards, it barely scratched the surface of the multiple millions of dollars that have been awarded to the county.
According to Hyde, the best way to use the funds is to be focused and target specific items that have a bigger impact rather than spreading the funds over small projects here and there.
“It’s more money coming into our region, our county than what was just presented and which will probably never happen again in our lifetime,” said Hyde. “We have to be careful not to let this money be grumbled and grayed out. In our business, it can happen because there are so many needs out there, and I don’t think it will be the best service it can be. do to our community and our constituents if we allow this to happen. “
Paying premiums to first responders would be a good opportunity to thank those who worked on the front lines for the county during the pandemic, Hyde said.
“If we decide this is beneficial, we can do what the document calls paying premiums for first responders and especially law enforcement,” Hyde said.
Based on his experience since the start of the pandemic, Hyde said that just being an ordinary citizen not interacting with people on a daily basis introduces stress that could potentially multiply for first responders.
“I think it means the world,” Hyde said. “I can tell you as a private citizen how much stress I have felt in those 14 months and I bet you have too, just having that dark cloud over us all the time of ‘Am I going to fall sick or am I my loved ones going to get sick? If we get sick, will we die? ‘”