Pond announces bid for another term

Posted: January 27, 2018 at 1:07 a.m.

Butch Pond
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Butch Pond

FAYETTEVILLE -- Washington County Justice of the Peace Butch Pond, a Republican, has announced plans to seek re-election.

"I like to serve the people," Pond said Wednesday.

What is the Quorum Court?

The Quorum Court is the legislative body of county government and is composed of 15 justices of the peace who serve two-year terms. The Court’s powers include levying some taxes, appropriating taxpayer money and approving certain legislation. Each justice of the peace represents a district of roughly equal population.

Source: Washington County

Pond, 65, is the longest-serving Quorum Court member. He has been justice of the peace since 2002 and represents eastern Washington County, which includes Goshen and Elkins.

The 15-member Quorum Court controls the county's budget. This year's $68 million budget has a $5 million shortfall between expected revenue and budgeted expenditures, county records show.

Pond said he plans to "make noise" about the financial problems the county could face if the gap widens. The Quorum Court decided not to raise property taxes last year.

"If we keep going the way we are, you know, we are going to run out of reserves," Pond said. "We'll have no choice but to cut some kind of services."

Reserves were at nearly $5 million this month, but that does not count unspent money that rolls over into the general fund when the books close at the end of February, Treasurer Bobby Hill said.

Pond voted to lower the property tax millage from 4.4 mills to 3.9 mills in 2011. He voted against raising the millage rate last year.

Justices of the peace, including Pond, say they are thinking of ways to increase county revenue.

For example, the county may need to increase jail fees paid by cities to pay to use the Washington County Detention Center, Pond said. The Quorum Court transferred about $2 million from the general fund to cover jail costs last year.

Road improvements and infrastructure are among Pond's top concerns, he said. If re-elected, Pond plans to focus on maintaining and improving county roads and bridges. That includes maintaining funding for the Road Department.

"Sometimes it seems I'm overly protective of the roads, but those affect the economies of the cities too -- the county roads do," Pond said.

Pond is a member of three Washington County committees -- Personnel, Public Works and Ordinance Review. All justices of the peace are on the county's finance committee.

Justices of the peace are paid about $200 per meeting. About $155,000 is set aside this year to pay their salaries, according to the 2018 budget. Justices of the peace serve two-year terms.

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The candidate filing period is from noon Feb. 22 to noon March 1. The primary election is May 22.

Pond said he has lived in Washington County his entire life, except for the four years he served in the Navy. He's a farmer and has been married to his wife Brenda for 33 years, and they have five kids, six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren between them.

Pond said he wants to continue to be a justice of the peace because he loves the county and wants to hear people's different points of view.

"We are responsible for serving all kinds of people," Pond said. "And listening to everybody."

NW News on 01/27/2018