Judge: Legality of bonuses could cause budget veto - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Judge: Legality of bonuses could cause budget veto

(Source: AP Graphics Bank) (Source: AP Graphics Bank)
LAWRENCE COUNTY, AR (KAIT) -

Lawrence County residents and judge question whether budgeted bonuses are legal.

During the November quorum court meeting, the council approved bonuses for county employees and elected officials.

The court voted for $500 in year-end bonuses to go to full time employees, elected officials and court members. Part-time employees would receive half that amount at $250 in bonuses.

The court held a budget meeting on Dec. 7, which got heated when one resident asked why the Justice of the Peace officials awarded themselves a $500 bonus.

County Judge Dale Freeman told Region 8 News the county attorney said the JPs are not entitled to these bonuses.

Freeman is also seeking legal counsel to whether the bonuses are actually illegal.

The county attorney is drafting a letter regarding the issue for the county judge that Freeman said he will send to the JPs once completed.

Freeman said if it is in fact illegal and the JPs do not vote to remove the bonuses from the budget he will take action.

“It may come down to me having to veto the budget, but I don't know right now,” Freeman said. “I have our county attorney fixing me a letter advising me on what to do.”

Freeman also said the former awarded bonuses might have to be returned depending on what the attorney says.

He said many people in the county are upset the JPs may receive bonuses they are not entitled to.

One JP, who did not want his identity revealed, told Region 8 News he has already returned his bonus.

The meeting to approve the final budget is set for Tuesday.

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