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BENTONVILLE -- Benton County's Quorum Court discussed changes to its committee structure during an organizational meeting Thursday.

County Judge Barry Moehring suggested the changes to the Quorum Court in a memo leading up to the meeting.

Benton County Meetings

• Jan. 17: Committee of the Whole.

• Jan. 24: Quorum Court.

The meetings will start at 6 p.m.

Source: Staff report

Liaison Positions

The Quorum Court established liaison positions for the Association of Arkansas Counties, the Benton County Planning Board and the Job Evaluation and Salary Administration Program. Judge Barry Moehring recommended adding a liaison for the Road Department. Justice of the Peace Kurt Moore also suggested adding a liaison to the Sheriff’s Office. Liaisons include:

• AAC: Susan Anglin

• Planning Board: Joshua Bryant

• JESAP: Shirley Sandlin

• Road Department: Pat Adams

Source: Benton County

The plan is to use a Finance/Budget Committee, Committee of the Whole and Quorum Court format, and eliminate all other committees.

The Finance/Budget Committee will include all justices of the peace, according to the proposal. Moehring recommended Tom Allen serve as the chairman.

Justice of the Peace Mike McKenzie said he liked the idea of having all the court members on the Finance Committee.

Agenda items that in the past would have been considered by a committee would be considered by the Committee of the Whole. Items could be non-financial ordinances and resolutions, department reports and similar items, his letter stated. Moehring recommended Kurt Moore continue as chairman with Allen as vice chairman.

Moehring can consider forming temporary subcommittees on specific issues if necessary on the recommendation of the Quorum Court.

The five-member Grievance Council will continue to operate under a separate ordinance, Moehring said.

Moehring said goals of the proposed structure are to have an equitable committee structure, to have a more efficient process and to retain the ability for additional deliberation as needed.

Justice of the Peace Pat Adams said he backed the proposed change, but he wanted to review it next year "if we felt there was a need to come back to the committee structure."

In years past, there were committees for Finance/Budget, Legislative, Personnel, Public Safety, and Transportation.

The court approved moving the item to next week's Committee of the Whole.

Moehring also proposed changing meeting times for Finance Committee, Committee of the Whole and Quorum Court.

Finance would meet on the second Tuesday of the month, Committee of the Whole on the third Tuesday and Quorum Court on the fourth Thursday. All meetings would start at 6 p.m.

A resolution declaring a vacancy in District 7 was heard at the organizational meeting. Joel Jones, a Republican who won a fifth term in the Nov. 6 general election, moved out of the district that includes eastern Bella Vista and the area southeast toward Bentonville. Jones and his family moved to another part of Bentonville. The move was for personal reasons, he said. Jones' fourth term ended Dec. 31. A vacancy must be declared before Gov. Asa Hutchinson can name a replacement.

County Attorney George Spence gave a short presentation on the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act at the organizational meeting.

"It's critically important for us to have open government," Spence told the justices of the peace.

The organizational meeting is held every two years.

Also Thursday, a new justice of the peace orientation was held for Debra Hobbs, Carrie Perrien Smith and Dustin Todd, who won positions on the court in the Nov. 6 election. Hobbs represents District 3, Smith represents District 5 and Todd represents District 11.

Hobbs served on the Quorum Court in 2007 and 2008. Smith and Todd are newcomers to the court. Fifteen Republicans make up the Quorum Court.

Channing Barker, communications director for the county, put together a 135-slide presentation covering all aspects of county government, and elected officials gave short presentations on what their offices do.

"This was very well done," Justice of the Peace Brent Meyers said of the presentation. "This should have been started a long time ago."

The Finance Committee met after new justice of the peace orientation and the organizational meeting.

NW News on 01/11/2019

Print Headline: Committee changes discussed by court

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