Benton County raises backed

Panel also recommends adding sheriff's, legal position.

By Tom Sissom
The Democrat-Gazette

BENTONVILLE -- Benton County's justices of the peace on Monday voted to give county employees raises of at least 2 percent next year.

The county's Budget Committee voted to provide employees with 2 percent cost-of-living increases and give elected officials another $242,000 to offer merit raises. The merit raises would be capped at 5 percent. The overall cost to the county would be about $727,000. The vote came as the committee continued working on the county's 2018 budget. The Quorum Court will consider the completed budget in December.

"This is a formality we're going through right now," Tom Allen, justice of the peace for District 4 and chairman of the committee, said during the discussion. "We're going to have the opportunity to take another look at this."

The committee also recommended the addition of 10 new positions, with the sheriff's office getting three deputies and the jail getting four jailers. Also added was a deputy public defender, a legal secretary for the prosecuting attorney and one juvenile probation officer.

The committee also heard an update on the proposed relocation of some county offices. County Judge Barry Moehring said the county's election commission will need more space to handle the new voting equipment already approved. Moehring said 20,000 square feet of space has been located in the old Kmart building at 2115 W. Walnut St. The county has also negotiated a right of first refusal on another 17,000 square feet of space in that building. Read more.

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