After extensive debate and discussion, the Van Buren County Quorum Court passed an ordinance expanding the inventory requirement for county offices at its monthly meeting, Thursday, Oct. 18.

The ordinance, first read into the record at last month’s meeting, expands the existing inventory requirement to county property items valued at more than $250 with over one year service life. In the past the state auditor required inventory records of items valued at over $1,000.

Justice Brian Tatum, who sponsored the ordinance, explained to the court that the expanded requirement would cover assets currently not in inventory. Tatum used the sheriff’s office as an example: “[the department] has vests, guns, Tasers that are not in inventory,” he said.

The inventory would be paid from a department’s budget for a professional auditor, per the ordinance’s terms.

Court members expressed some concern at this requirement, but in turn agreed that an outside auditor was preferable to an internal, department, auditor. They acknowledged that the ordinance, passed as an emergency ordinance and going into effect immediately, would bring funding requests to the court next month so departments could undertake audits via a professional auditor.

As part of the ordinances terms, inventory is required once per year, with an additional requirement that an audit must be done 30 days prior to a department head leaving office. Several county offices, notably the sheriff’s office under interim Sheriff Randy Gurley, appointed after elected Sheriff Scott Bradley resigned, will have new department heads after Jan. 1.

The court reviewed concerns department heads had about the requirement, including the state auditors need for labeling. This would not apply to the county-ordinance inventory as it is written, County Attorney Chad Brown told the group.

Inventories, per the ordinance, will be filed with the county judge’s office.

“This is going to stop a lot of rumors,” Justice Dale James said.

Tatum explained that the initial audit would establish a baseline going forward.

The ordinance passed with one no vote, by Justice John Bradford, who earlier expressed concern about funding the auditor requirement.

In other Quorum Court matters:

The sheriff’s department sold an equipped Chevrolet Tahoe and Ford Crown Victoria from its inventory to the Bauxite Police Department, for $28,000 and $4,500, respectively. The department currently has six cars for sale, Gurley told the court, with bid opening Oct. 31.