Pulaski County’s long-awaited fiscal plan is set to be unveiled next month, but in the meantime, several departments’ requests for additional help will remain on hold. Three department heads were scheduled to ask the county council for staffing increases Monday, but at the start of the meeting, Council Member Kathi Thompson said that fiscal planning consultant Jeffrey Peters has asked council members to hold off.
“They have prepared a preliminary draft report, and we are going to meet with him next month at the combined meeting, the combined council and commission meeting,” she explained. “And what Peters has recommended is that we not do anything in terms of hiring full- or part-time staff until we have discussed this report with him.”
The department heads went on to present their requests anyway, knowing that it was unlikely that any action would be taken. Prosecutor Dan Murphy brought his request for another full-time secretary back to the county council, after the matter had been bounced back and forth between the council and commissioners over the past month.
Building Inspector Doug Hoover again asked for his part-time deputy to be moved to full-time status, something he’s been requesting for the past six months. “My opinion, we spend a lot of money on other departments, and I’m not knocking any department here, by no means,” Hoover said. “We spend a lot of money on other departments protecting the drug users, the meth heads, sex offenders, but we’re not spending the money on the taxpayers to help clean up. And I need help.”
Both of those requests were tabled.
Director of Environmental Health Terri Hansen’s request for a new part-time employee came the closest to moving forward. Council members didn’t vote on adding a new staff member directly, but a motion to advertise an additional appropriation request for $15,000 for consideration next month was voted down. EMS Director Brandon DeLorenzo’s requests to reinstate the on-call pay rate and the assistant EMS director position were tabled amid similar concerns.
Council Member Brian Young expressed his frustration with the lack of action. “Before we move on, I just want to make a comment. I feel like we’re working for Peters Consulting right now, Young said. “It’s the county council’s fault. It’s past councils’ fault.”
Council Member Ken Boswell responded, “And unfortunately, then that makes it our responsibility, since we’re elected by the taxpayers, to fix the problem now.” Boswell added that the fiscal plan won’t necessarily rule out any future staffing increases, although Council President Jay Sullivan was less optimistic. Boswell also said the draft doesn’t take the need for facility upgrades into account. He said he’s asked Peters to incorporate a project of up to $10 million into the final financial models.