Wednesday, November 30, 2016

City budget omits judge reimbursements, economic development money

Posted By on Wed, Nov 30, 2016 at 2:22 PM

Little Rock's proposed 2017 budget of $204.5 million does not include the total $86,776 payout to reimburse district judges Vic Fleming, Alice Lightle and Mark Leveritt for accrued vacation and sick leave, nor does it include economic development tribute dollars that was once paid the Chamber of Commerce.

The proposed budget is up $4.7 million over 2016. Reserve revenues, funds carried over from previous years, of $2.2 million will help pay for the increase.

You can see a presentation of the proposed budget here.
Max earlier wrote about the city Board of Directors' initial plan to make a cumulative lump sum payment of $237,00 to the three judges, while considering no pay for employees as well as furloughs. After his blog post, the city refigured the amount, but City Attorney Tom Carpenter argued, successfully, that the judges are not city employees and should not be paid for vacation and sick leave. The city can neither hire nor fire them: The governor would appoint a replacement required by death or retirement from the bench and the state Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission, not the city, would handle complaints of malfeasance by the judges. They also handle state cases.

As of Jan. 1, state court reorganization will make the district judges full state employees.

The city will hold public hearings on the budget at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 5, at the Southwest Community Center at 6401 Baseline Road; 6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 7, at The Centre at University Park, 6401 W. 12th St.; and at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 13, at City Hall, 500 W. Markham St. (as part of the board's agenda meeting).

The city points out in its announcement of the public hearings that the proposed budget "would, among other recommendations, maintain increased funding to fill all vacant police officer and 911 call-taker positions as well as provide for the annual fleet replacement allocation and Jericho Way Day Resource Center." That and other commitments of the 5/8-cent operating sales tax passed in 2011 will be fulfilled.

That will make the public happy; the 1.5 percent salary increases are a good thing for city employees as well, though it may not make up in some cases increases in insurance rates.

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