2024 Benton County budget up by about $5 million over 2023

Up by about $5 million, it includes funding for new posts

The Benton County Courthouse.
The Benton County Courthouse.

BENTONVILLE -- Benton County's 2024 budget will be about $5 million higher than the 2023 budget and includes new staff positions for the county.

The $77 million budget was unanimously approved Thursday by Benton County's justices of the peace at the Quorum Court's monthly meeting.

The total budget is $76,997,006 with $60,848,933 being in the general fund budget; $15,598,073 being in the road and bridge budget and $550,000 in the road motor tax fund for next year.

Justice of the Peace Joel Jones, who chairs the Finance Committee, recommended the budget be approved. He thanked everyone for their work on the budget.

"I believe we have come up with a good budget to get us into 2024," Jones said.

The justices of the peace voted 14-0 to approve the budget.

This year's budget is $72 million, Deborah Fischer, the county's comptroller, previously said.

Fischer said the 2024 budget for the Sheriff's Office is $16,340,645 and the budget for the jail is $15,600,194.

The 2024 budget includes 10 new positions for the county.

The justices of the peace voted against a jail expansion project during a previous budget meeting. The expansion project included $18.5 million for an I Pod addition that will hold 266 to 320 inmates.

The Quorum Court members did vote at the same budget meeting to spend $2.7 million in next year's budget to build a health care area and sally port at the jail.

The justices of the peace voted on the third and final reading of a ordinance concerning virtual meetings. Under the ordinance, Quorum Court members can attend virtual committee meetings and will be allowed to vote, but they will not be paid.

The justices of the peace voted 11-3 to approve the ordinance with Carrie Perrien Smith, Joseph Bollinger and Bethany Rosenbaum voting against it. Rosenbaum said she opposed the ordinance because she believes justices of the peace should be paid and allowed to vote if they attend virtual meetings.

The Quorum Court voted 14-0 to approve the second reading of an ordinance calling for a March 5 special election to increase the annual dues for the Avoca Fire and Rescue Department. The proposed increase from $50 a year for each residence or business to $125 would require voter approval. The fee is added to property tax bills collected by the county.

The ordinance requires a third reading before it can be put on the ballot. The Quorum Court will take up the matter again during its next meeting at 6 p.m. Dec. 19.

The story was updated to correct Fischer's name.

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