Quorum Court discusses animal control changes, $18 trash assessment

One item on the formal agenda and one that was not brought the most discussion from the members during Tuesday evening's Baxter County Quroum Court meeting.

Karen Hopper has this report.



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The Quorum Court moved to suspend the rules, with all three readings and unanimous adoption of a proposed amendment to the current stray animal control ordinance. The action followed confirmation from Judge Mickey Pendergrass the steps were needed to align the county's ordinance with changes to a section in state law. The amended state law now adopted by the county reads all dogs, cats, and other animals shall be vaccinated against rabies, as required by the State Board of Health.

Questions followed, with Arkansas Department of Health Epidemiologist Richard Taffner clarifying the former language referenced annual rabies vaccines and there are now three-year medications available. Taffner noted rabies vaccinations still must be administered by a state veterinarian in order to comply with state law. While the new language does not include a reference to a collar requirement, Department of Health regulations do include this stipulation. He also noted licensed vaccines in the U.S. are only available for dogs, cats and ferrets.

In other business, JP Gary Smith advised he plans to bring a resolution before the quorum court in April in opposition to the $18 annual assessment against each residence and business parcel in the six-county Ozark Mountain Solid Waste District to pay the debt incurred in purchasing the NABORS waste hauling operation and the local landfill. It was noted at least two other counties are considering the move. Judge Pendergrass noted a resolution will not have any binding impact on a Pulaski County Circuit Court ruling.

The judge's April 2017 order is a result of a saga that began when the Northwest Arkansas Regional Solid Waste District defaulted on the payment of principal and interest to the bondholders in November 2012 and stopped trash collections. After the district defaulted on its debt, Bank of the Ozarks--as trustee of the bondholders--sued the district in Pulaski County Circuit Court.

Judge Pendergrass noted people are wanting to place the blame for the $18 assessment on current office holders, not those who were in office when the problem developed. He said, "I wish they would blame the right people."

He went on to say plans are in the works for the court trustee to hold town hall meetings across the six-county district. The local meeting is expected before the end of March and is designed to give residents an opportunity to address their questions and concerns.

In other business, the court, with member James Kerr, Jr. absent, gave its support to a resolution authorizing Judge Pendergrass to apply for $75,000 in grant funding through the Arkansas Rural Development Commission for an upgrade project on Denton Ferry Road. Judge Pendergrass said the funds will be matched through $75,000 raised through community cash and/or in-kind donations.

And a resolution approving Judge Pendergrass' appointment of Martin Oreschnigg to the Baxter County Planning Board was approved.


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