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The Ouachita County Quorum Court met Tuesday to discuss amendments to the county’s 2018 budget, but the county judge and justices also listened to a presentation about funding the Ouachita Partnership for Economic Development and about potential participation in an area solar farm.

Ouachita County Judge Robert McAdoo told the court that a contract for economic development services for OPED has been created. He said that it has been budgeted for the county to begin helping OPED financially, and the budget would allow the county to give $25,000 in quarterly installments to the organization. McAdoo recommended that the court approve the contract after the county’s attorney has reviewed it.

OPED Executive Director James Lee Silliman and OPED Treasurer James Nixon attended the meeting to thank the court for the financial support, and explain the highlights of the contract. Silliman said he is excited about the agreement because it is the first time the county has helped OPED with funding for economic-development operations.

He said the agreement would mean “monumental aid” for OPED.

Silliman stated that the county’s contract “closely mirrors” one that OPED has presented to the City of Camden. He shared that the city has also stepped up and is taking funds out of their general operating fund budget for OPED.

He also reassured the court that there is already county representation on the OPED board with the presence of McAdoo and District 11 Justice Jerry West - both of whom are on OPED’s board of directors, so there is representation.

Projects for economic development to “create jobs and investment for the county are already in the works for 2019,” Silliman stated, and he stressed that Highland Industrial Park is still hiring and growing.

Silliman distributed to quorum court members OPED’s operating budget for 2019, and said court members can contact him if they have any questions.

During Tuesday’s meeting, McAdoo told the court about “something on the horizon” that would benefit the county.

He stated that the county and city have been approached by a solar company about possibly funding and building a solar project. He said the only thing the county would have to do is find the land for the solar farm.

The judge said he could not go into much detail, but that the county is trying to find the land at no cost to the county or city. But if the project takes off, instead of paying the present electric company 9.5 cents per kilowatt, the participants will pay the solar company 6 cents per kilowatts. And building up kilowatts above consumption - which means building up more credits toward the payment of the present electricity provider

McAdoo said there was a meeting at city hall last week. The data from that meeting shows that the city would save $108,000 in utility bills per year for 30 years - at an $8 million savings over that period. He said the company needs utility bills for courthouse, jail, drivers testing center, juvenile probation center, the county health department, the recycle center and the county shop. The county is in the process of getting those together.

The county is soliciting 50 acres, but it can be built on 30 acres, said McAdoo.

He added that he is “not at liberty to discuss, at this point, who the other potential client to buy power is going to be, but that client will possibly provide the acreage.

McAdoo stated that this would mean “a cooperative partnership with the city of Camden and possibly another city in the county so we can all reap benefits from it.”

Under new business, the court established the time and place of the regular monthly meeting of the quorum court: At 7 p.m. on first Tuesday of each month unless the date is on a federal holiday, at which time the meeting will be held on the second Tuesday.

In the appropriation ordinances for the 2018 budget, items to amend totaled $149,673. Of that:

• County judge’s office for small equipment, utilities - electric, dues and memberships and other miscellaneous, general supplies, fire and extended coverage, meals and lodging, computer software for a total of $6,050.

• Collector’s office for health insurance, salaries, full-time, overtime, advertising, and “other professional” for a total of $7,650.

• Assessor’s office for health insurance, parts and repairs, fire and extended coverage, full-time salaries, maintenance and service, advertising at $3,196.

• Quorum court for full-time salaries and social security for $750.

• Building maintenance and operations for part-time salaries, utilities- electric, health insurance, internet connection service, computer software for $1,750.

• Circuit Court, First Division for health insurance, lease - machine equipment, contract labor, cell phones, general supplies, janitorial supplies, utilities - gas, dues and maintenance, full-time salaries, postage, fire and extended, utilities - electric, utilities - water, other miscellaneous for $8,543.

• District court for social security, full-time salaries, overtime and non-contributory for $3,692.

• Prosecuting attorney’s office for general supplies and computer software for $37.

• Public defender’s office for workmen’s comp, small equipment, training and education, postage, unemployment, general supplies and travel for $1,195.

• Juvenile Court for internet, fire coverage, postage and travel for $7,805.

• The coroner’s office for workmen’s comp, training and education, fuel, cell phones and pagers, fire coverage, Social Security match for $4,210.

• Solid waste for car allowances, tire and tubes, parts and repairs, clothing and uniforms, vehicles, gasoline, unemployment, and utilities for $36,420.00.

• Road department for tires, machinery, parts and repairs, culvert and pipes, telephone and fax, utilities, general supplies, clothing and uniforms, asphalt, fuel, gravel, dirt, and sand for $67,075.

• 911 Fund for overtime, unemployment, full-time pay, retirement and Social Security for $1,200.

McAdoo explained that the adjustments to the 2018 budget are for corrections and “moving money that was in the budget - some of it due to mis-coding and not paying attention to line items.”

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