The Ashley County Quorum Court will have a special budget meeting for the county on Dec.18 after some of the quorum members said they needed more time to review the 2021 budget.

Justice Jeff Langley presented Tuesday the budget proposal drafted by the finance committee, but some of the members said they needed more time to review the proposal.

“I’m not voting on a budget I’ve looked over for 10 minutes,” Justice Ron Miller said.

Miller asked if there was a document showing how much each department increased or decreased in funds so that the justices could look over it without having to comb through the budget before the vote.

Langley went over a few changes that he knew of, but said most of the budget stayed the same. Langley said the sheriff’s office decreased by $200,000, but it was because they had been under budget in previous years.

“Basically on the sheriff, his budget stayed the same but he dropped some of the things he wasn’t using so that it would go back in the emergency fund,” Langley said.  

Langley also said that an additional $100,000 was budgeted for vehicles for the sheriff’s office because they had been trying to stay on top of replacing vehicles when needed so that there wouldn’t be a need for seven or eight vehicles at one time.

Langley also said the County Judge’s Office had requested an additional $20,000 to pave the parking lot behind the courthouse.

The phone budget had a huge increase, he said, because the new phone systems had to be budgeted for.

“In one office, the phone bill increased from $5,000 or $6,000 a year to around $15,000, and we had to budget for that, and I think everyone here needs to know that,” Langley said.

“That’s something that’s in the budget because we had to budget for it even though none of us was happy about it.”

He also gave a report on insurance. He said that the quorum had gotten a cheaper quote from Blue Cross Blue Shield. The current company, United Health Care, went down from $49,000 to $45,000 when they contacted them with what Blue CrossBlue Shield had quoted, but Langley said ultimately the county chose Blue Cross Blue Shield because it was only $42,000 annually. Employee copays will change from $25 to $30 and the specialty copay will stay the same. The medicine copay went from $10, $30 and $50 to $10, $40 and $60. Speciality drugs will still be $120.

After discussing the changes in the budget, Miller moved that they have an additional meeting after the justices had time to review the budget proposal. Justice Ronnie Wheeler seconded the motion. 

The special meeting will be 2:30 p.m. Dec. 18.

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