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A budget is more than just a series of numbers on a page; it’s an embodiment of our values...

The Finance & Budget Committee met Tuesday, 9/5/23. We reviewed budgets for the following officials: Assessor Russell Hill; Circuit Court Judges Martin, Beaumont, Lindsay, Storey-Bryan, Zimmerman and Warren and Public Defender Denny Hyslip.

The Assessor’s office is “commissioned based” which means it’s funded in direct proportion to the funding the county receives (aka taxes). New construction increased 27% over 2022. The number of real estate parcels in Washington County increased from 106,652 in 2019 to 114,273 in 2023! In 2020 the total market value of real estate in Washington County was 25.2 Billion. In 2023, it’s 40.7 Billion, an increase of 38.08%.

Did you know? Keeping up with real estate development in a county our size, and one that’s growing as fast as we are, is a major job. Assessor Hill uses imagery software provided by Eagle View. Starting sometime in mid-December through January (depending on the weather - it doesn’t work well with snow on the ground) Eagle View’s drones fly over the county and take high resolution images. Its software can even compare the current photos with prior and determine if any new construction has occurred, or if any buildings have been demolished.

Public Defender’s Office: We heard again that the caseload for attorneys in the public defender’s office is much higher than the level recommended by the American Bar Association (it’s been that way for years - at least since 2019 when I became involved). Gregg Parrish, Executive Director of the Arkansas Public Defender’s Commission attended the meeting, but didn’t speak. He told us more than two years ago that he thought having a public defender located at the jail was a good idea, but that has not materialized. I asked about that in the public meeting and was told it was still in the works, but due to the huge amount of capital cases and the need to hire outside attorneys to assist public defenders, that was on hold for now.

You can watch the full meeting here.

Would you like to learn more about these budgets? You can review them all here — need help understanding them? Give me a call!

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