Jefferson County Judge Gerald Robinson approved several furlough alternatives this week from county department heads after giving them an option to provide a plan that would match savings.

Jefferson County Judge Gerald Robinson approved several furlough alternatives this week from county department heads after giving them an option to provide a plan that would match savings.
Robinson said he received proposals from the tax collector, sheriff and the circuit clerk on Monday, May 11, which was the deadline.
“The tax collector came with his plans to put his people in the Recorder’s Cost Fund, which I approved that. The sheriff and the circuit clerk came with the shared work program and I approved their plan,” said Robinson. “The prosecuting attorney, district court one, accessor office, county clerk office, and my office will do the furlough.”
To comply with the reduced budget ordered by the Quorum Court, Jefferson County Collector Tony Washington said he would move two employees to the Collector’s Automated Fund in his proposal.
His proposal, obtained by the Pine Bluff Commercial, read that all benefits associated with the employees would be included saving the county more money than the furlough.
“With the furlough the county would be paying 50 percent of the insurance match that will now come out of the Collector’s Automated Fund,” said Washington.
During last week’s Quorum Court meeting Washington explained to Robinson that his department could not operate if he lost any staff.
“I have an automated fund that I can put two people in, the same as a furlough,” he said during last week’s meeting. “They will be no problem to the county at all. They will be nonexistent to the county budget.”
Washington explained that every office was different and he has the funds to run his office for up to five months.
Washington’s proposed movement included Slot 5 $29,000 and Slot 7 $30,000 totaling $59,000 plus all benefits and health insurance.
Jefferson County Sheriff Lafayette Woods Jr said he believed his proposal would still enable him to fulfill his constitutional duties of the Office of Sheriff. 
“A furlough of employees under my purview would not only affect physical operations but have an immediate impact of public safety with an even greater loss of revenue,” said Woods.
Wood alternate plan to the 30 percent workforce reduction was laid out as followed:
Determined the value of a “30 percent personnel reduction” through August 31, 2020, for all departments under the purview of the sheriff to be $478,394.70.

• There are 144 slots in the sheriff’s departments’ slots under the current 2020 budget. Of those, 42 represent civilian / non-uniformed employees, or 29.2 percent.
• Those civilians gross salaries through August 31, 2020, came to $406,625.33, their Social Security Match to $31,106.84 and their APERS match to $40,662.53.

In a review of alternative options to avoid a furlough or layoffs of essential (uniformed) personnel and fulfill the essential duties of the Office of Sheriff, we have found that the Shared Work Program meets our needs at this current time.
We determined the cost reduction value of our alternative proposal to be $522,300.34.
c. The Shared Work Program value was determined to be 20 percent of the furlough value as they would both be based on the same period, and reducing an eight hour / five day-per-week work week by one day a week represents a 20 percent reduction. Twenty percent of the $478,394.70 furlough value is $95,678.94.
d. $150,000.00 has already been budgeted and approved for emergency vehicle purchases for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO). Under Amendment 78 of the Arkansas Constitution and A.C.A. § A.C.A. 14-78-101 et seq. Jefferson County is able to solicit proposals by public advertisement for interested financial entities to submit proposals for the financing of the acquisition of emergency vehicles for JCSO at the state contract award valued at $139,935.00. This would save a burden of that amount on JCSO budget.
e. Acknowledge that furloughing the Juvenile Justice Education civilian staff would, cost about $286,686.40 in reimbursement value for the furlough period. Therefore the alternative plan will keep that reimbursement coming to the county for its intended purposes.
Woods stated the Shared Work Program proposal would be at least $43,905.64 more beneficial to Jefferson County than the 30 percent furlough.
The Shared Work Plan is effective May 17 with an expiration date of May 25, 2021
Jefferson County Circuit Clerk’s office will also participate in the Shared Work Program with employees working 28 hours a week with a total savings of $18,103.28 for the months of June thru August.
“On the surface it appears these will suffice but not knowing what the revenue loss will be worries me and it may not be enough,” said Robinson referring to the alternative approved proposals. “I’ve been looking at other states and cities that have a better economy than Arkansas and they see loss ratios of 20 percent of more.”
Robinson states the issue is that revenue was already down in most departments and it won’t be until he starts looking into the end of May, June and July to confirm revenue loss.
“March and April, those were the months that were shut down,” said Robinson. “Just look at the loss of revenue just from the casino alone. We lost a small portion in March and since it’s been closed, we’re not going to see anything in June nor July.”
Robison adds from June to September have always been the slower months for the county when they received less tax revenue.
“We always had to hold the line in our budgets anyway. We’ve always sent out those memos, control your spending,” said Robinson. “That’s what has got me worried because we were already down in our revenue stream and then facing the loss of revenues that we feel we are going to have because businesses are only opening up at a third of their capacity.”
Even with the casino projected to open op next week, Robinson said it will only be at a third of its capacity.
“That means two-thirds of the revenue that you may have been looking for, you’re not going to see,” said Robinson. “There’s differences of opinions always but it’s my position to put the county in the best financial situation possible.”