The Sharp County Quorum Court voted Dec. 18 to approve the 2002 budget that will require a decrease of four employees; however, only one employee will not be returning after the new year.
Two employees were deleted from the sheriff's office, but because two deputies had recently quit Sheriff T.J. "Sonny" Powell will not be required to give the unpleasant news to any of his employees; he will simply not be replacing the two deputies.
The budget also showed a decrease of one employee in the clerk's office. However, Sharp County Clerk Tommy Estes said he has been able to shift the salary for that employee to the County Recorder's Fund which is a state-funded program that was established to help county clerks maintain an adequate staff for recording. According to Estes the fund is separate from the General Fund and has been used for equipment in the past.
But Tax Collector Jimmie Don Kunkel doesn't have any such fund to tap into and one of his employees will no longer have a job after Jan. 1.
Nancy McGuire, wife and mother of two, will not be returning to work after the New Year holiday. She has been employed in the tax collector's office for approximately one and a half years and is a deputy collector. McGuire said she may return to school or seek employment elsewhere.
Kunkel said the three remaining employees he will be left with will be the smallest staff he has ever had in the 13 years he has been collector. He said he is concerned about the workload and how his staff will manage.
"But we're going to do the best we can because that is what the people elected me to do," said Kunkel. "Times are hard and this is part of the hard times."
Kunkel provided statistics regarding the workload and the number of employees in county collectors' offices around the area which shows Sharp to have approximately 50,000 parcels of property in the county. This will average approximately 12,500 parcels for each employee, including Kunkel, to service.
The average in Fulton County is 8,291, and Izard averages 10,500. Independence County has the lowest average at 5,500.