When Independence County Judge Robert Griffin read that the Batesville City Council had approved a motion to offer the county a 50/50 split regarding funding and operations of the district court, he sprang into action.
Griffin said he sent emails to each member of the Quorum Court recommending acceptance of the Batesville City Council’s offer.
“I sent an email to the Quorum Court [Wednesday] morning that we do accept a fair and equitable 50/50,” Griffin said. “That’s the beginning of solving a whole lot of these things. They have to be knocked off one at a time.”
Batesville Mayor Rick Elumbaugh peppered his optimism with a dash of caution to what the details of an agreement might look like.
“At this time I think the agreement is a little pre-mature until all details are worked out,” Elumbaugh said “There needs to be a written proposal and the end game needs to be an inter local agreement that is fair and equitable to both the city and county. I am extremely glad that Judge Griffin and I are in the process of working the district court differences out for the benefit of our community.”
Griffin said he was pleased with the progress and that what the city proposed mirrored what he mentioned in an email in October 2019.
In correspondence with County Attorney Daniel Haney, Griffin wrote: “Then regarding District Court and keeping it funded, as you know, the law primarily puts the burden of the court upon the city in which it is located. The collection of fines has worked to make up for the needed funding but as [City Attorney] Tim [Meitzen] asked, can the city have excess fines above the needs of the court? I said I had no problem with that, as long as the court has sufficient funding to operate. While we are only obligated for half of the local share of the judge and half of the chief clerk, I would propose we pay one half of the total district court expenses and allow the city to have their fine monies to pay the other half, certainly with Judge [Chaney] Taylor’s concurrence. With both having similar numbers of officers and no other city having a responsibility, that seems to be fair.”
Griffin made the announcement to the Batesville Guard regarding his recommendation after Governor Asa Hutchinson delivered his COVID-19 briefing at UACCB.
“This should set the stage for working through other issues,” Griffin said. “I am appreciative for the mayor and council coming to the conclusion 50/50 is a fair agreement. I hope a stumbling block has been removed and I have great optimistic hopes for the future.”