The Jefferson County Quorum Court on Monday declared Justice of the Peace District 3 vacant and now the question is who will fill the position.
The action followed the resignation of Delton Wright on Oct. 7 after County Judge Gerald Robinson raised questions about Wright’s residency. In his letter, Wright said he was a qualified elector and resident of the district when he was reelected and assumed office on Jan. 1 but has since sold his former residence and has moved into a house in J.P. District 4.
On Tuesday, Robinson was set to announce a replacement for Wright but a check of that individual’s residence indicated he was also not a resident of District 3.
Under state law, Governor Asa Hutchinson will appoint a replacement for Wright and that person will serve out the remainder of Wright’s term, which will expire Dec. 31, 2020.
Robinson said that several individuals who are qualified and live in the district chose not to put their names in because they would not be able to run for election to the office.
In other business Monday, the Quorum Court an amendment which will extend the county’s contract with Waste Management for five years, beginning Jan. 1, 2020 and ending Dec. 31, 2024 and provides for fee increases for the final four years of the agreement.
Jefferson County contracts with Waste Management to pick up garbage in the unincorporated areas of the county in return for a flat price per home. That price next year will be $15.49 per month, then increase to $16.11 for calendar year 2021, $16.75 for calendar year 2022, $17.42 during calendar year 2023 and $18.12 during calendar year 2024.
Robinson said the contract with Waste Management had not been renewed since 2015 and state auditors had pointed that out.
The county’s legislative body also approved requests from Circuit Clerk Lafayette Woods Sr., and Prosecuting Attorney S. Kyle Hunter to fill vacant positions in their respective offices. County offices had been prohibited from filing vacancies under a policy adopted by the Quorum Court earlier this year because of budget constraints. However, there was a provision in the legislation that allowed vacant positions to be filled if the elected official seeking to fill the slot could provide justification.
In the case of the Circuit Clerk’s Office, Woods sand the vacant deputy clerk position was in juvenile court and handles delinquency cases, dependency-neglect cases and Families In Need of Services (FINS) cases. He said in a letter that there are over 14,000 records being maintained at the juvenile center and if the position were not filled, it would cause serious problems with the juvenile system.
Hunter said in a letter to Robinson that he was not seeking to add a position but rather to fill a position that still existed after the county hiring freeze was adopted. He also said the position is vital to the work we do in the administration of justice in the First Division of Circuit Court.