Hillis files suit against county
Courtesy of the Modern News
Poinsett County Judge Doyle Hillis has filed a civil suit in Poinsett County Circuit Court petitioning County Clerk Fonda Condra that he be paid $22,184.53 in retirement that has accumulated since he took office in January of 2003. Condra's office is the one that keeps up with the payroll and payroll deductions such as retirement and insurance for the county.
The civil action was filed on July 19, by his attorney Jarrett Cobb of Harrisburg.
Before becoming county judge, Hillis retired from another department of the State of Arkansas and contends that even though he has retired from another agency, he is also entitled to retirement from the county as well.
Hillis worked for the Poinsett County Sheriff's Office, Marked Tree Police Department and the Arkansas Highway Police before retiring. While with the county and the Marked Tree Police Department he was under the Arkansas Public Employees Retirement System (APERS). After becoming judge, Hillis was denied a request by APERS for retirement benefits.
In January of 2006, Hillis wrote a letter and obtained an opinion from Ralph C. Ohm, General Counsel for the Arkansas Public Entities Risk Management Association. In his response, Ohm said based on Poinsett County's own personnel policy, found in Section IV: 4. (A) entitled "Retirement" that the county provides a retirement plan for each full-time county employee.
Ohm wrote in his response letter to Hillis the following:
"The Poinsett County Personnel Policy specifically provides retirement benefits for all full-time employees. So as long as you continue to maintain your position as a full-time position, your are entitled to receive retirement benefits. This is irrespective of whether you have received retirement benefits from any other agency. It is significant to note that this provision does not have any type of exclusions other than exclusions dealing with part-time and seasonal workers."
In the suit, Hillis requests that the court set a court date within 45 days of the date of his petition for a hearing to settle the issue.
The Poinsett Quorum Court had discussed the matter of the retirement issue at an earlier meeting, but took no action.