JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ark. – Jefferson County leaders are at odds over a state of emergency called by the county judge.
“It’s not a miscommunication with the public, I would say it’s a one-sided narrative that’s being pointed to the public,” Jefferson County Justice of the Peace Lloyd Franklin said.
Jefferson County Judge Gerald Robinson declared a state of emergency on Sept. 6 stating the road department would shut down because the money used for vehicles needed to be used to purchase fuel.
“The County Clerk cannot pay a bill if a line item is in the negative and you don’t have the appropriation,” Robinson said. “It was shutting down the road department to include paying our electrical bill.”
Quorum court members Lloyd Franklin and Alfred Carroll said this was a manipulation tactic.
“It was to manipulate the emotions of the citizens to try to manipulate quorum court members into voting for legislation that he saw fit that he felt we were in disagreement with,” Franklin said.
“It was simply an attempt by the county judge, not only to impact the public to thinking that Jefferson County was lacking in some way and also to influence quorum court members to vote for things they do not understand and lack the clarity to make good decisions,” Carroll said.
Robinson was trying to transfer $120,000 for vehicles in the budget over to fuel.
Robinson said those funds needed to be transferred immediately, but quorum court members said it could’ve waited until the next meeting since there was still over $300,000 to be used.
However, the real root of the problem was at the last meeting.
“We walked out on him because we wouldn’t address the agenda brought forth, he left the quorum courts items off of it, that’s when he created the whole narrative of a state of emergency to bring us back so that we would have to participate with his agenda,” Franklin stated.
Robinson said if they can get the appropriations when they are needed, then he said they can stop some of the state of emergencies Jefferson County has seen on a few occasions.
Even though the state of emergency is over, there is still a lot of controversy about how the county money will be used.