Funding arrangements for the recent facilities plan that called for the demolition of the Pulaski County Courthouse were approved by the county council Monday, but not without some debate. Newly-elected council member Kathi Thompson was concerned that the county commissioners didn’t ask for council members’ opinions before hiring an architectural firm.
“We need more heads on this issue than what are being put toward this issue right now,” she said. “My concern is that an architect has done a job for which the payment has not been approved, and I don’t think the architect should be hanging out there but I also don’t think that this council should be sitting here saying, ‘Oh, okay. We contracted the work, so we’re doing it backwards; let’s go ahead and do it.'” She also wanted to know exactly what the $27,000 fee paid for.
Another newcomer to the council, Brian Young, also voiced concerns. “If they’d have spent $27,000 on upkeep of the building, instead of telling an employee the outcome they want, we’d be $27,000 closer to a repair of this building,” he said.
Others argued that the county spent significant amounts of money three years ago on a plan to expand and renovate the courthouse, but it didn’t get much public support. Thompson clarified that many people at the time supported the idea of doing something, but just wanted the plan to be scaled back.
In any case, Council Member Ken Boswell said that while it would have been nice for the council to have been consulted before the plan was done, the commissioners do have the authority to enter into a contract and pay for it. Commissioner Jerry Locke said there was enough money in the commissioners’ budget; the council was just being asked to transfer money within it.
In the end, the county council voted five-to-one to transfer $27,000 from the Liability Insurance line item to Building and Structure Repair, with Young opposing and Thompson abstaining.