The Leachville City Council met in regular session on Feb. 4, and worked through a lengthy agenda involving discussions about county jail fees, utililty increases and improvements to the water and sewer systems.
Leachville Mayor Ralph Wells reviewed a letter received from the Mississippi County Sheriff's Office concerning a boarding bill increase, Quorum Court Ordinance #2001-18, for keeping municipal prisoners held in the county jail, and for other purposes.
"I have talked with our attorney, Mike Bridges, concerning this matter," Wells said. "In a state arrest, they can keep the prisoners up to 7-10 days before they go to court for sentencing, then they become a county inmate. We are already taxed for the upkeep of the jail and now we have to pay this."
The council discussed the possibility of renovating the former city jail, to accommodate prisoners for short stays, and to avoid extended county jail confinements and charges.
"They started putting up the new park equipment today," Wells said.
"We will have new play equipment, benches, BBQ grills, swing seats and chains. We may have to paint the super swing structure and the merry-go-round."
"The health department has told us we need another 350,000 gallon water tank," said Wells.
Wells introduced Randy Polk, with the Arkansas Soil and Water Department, in Little Rock. Polk discussed improvements to water and sewer systems, sewage pumping stations and sewage collection tanks. Concerning city water, there is funding up to $850,000 available from the State Drinking Water Revolving Fund Program, at a 3.9 percent loan rate, with up to 30 years to repay. He also discussed Water Resource Development funding, and monthly and daily average state water customer consumption.
"The city's proposed increase would put you in the 51st percentile, with $29.90 for 5,000 gallons of water and sewer," Polk said. "This would show an increase of $48,315 by 2003. The sewer project could cost $566,000 and $1.3 million with both the water and sewer projects combined.
"Only one percent of the cities in the state are under more demand than Leachville, which is at 99 percent now," Polk said. "Water grants are tight now."
Polk handed out copies of "How to compare retail water prices among your communities" and a summary of fees charged by cities in Arkansas that provide both water and sewer their customers.
The council approved a residential water and sewer increase, which included: Water rates for 2002, for 1,800 gal. usage, at $9, with $1.60 for each 1,000 gallon thereafter; water rates for 2003, for 1,800 gallon usage, at $10.50, with $1.90 for each 1,000 gallon thereafter.
Sewer rates for 2002, for 1,800 gal. usage, at $7, with $1.20 for each 1,000 gallon thereafter, and rates for 2003 at $9 for 1,800 gallon usage and $1.35, for each 1,000 gal. thereafter. Commercial rates will be the same as residential.
The council voted to place meters at the Leachville Housing Authority, BIC school, and two apartments. Alderman Bill Hetler asked the council to consider passing an ordinance, in the future, to require all businesses to install back flow equipment.
The council approved ordinance 2002-2, amending ordinance 1998-4, which increases the fees on water meter rates for proper maintenance and r service rendered by the City of Leachville.
Ken Womack passed out a Leachville Police Department report for January 2002. The council voted to purchase a 2000 Crown Victoria for $13,500 from the Missouri Highway Patrol. The city will advertise for sealed bids on the old police car. The council tabled a decision to purchase the new computer program necessary to bring Leachville in compliance with the federal mandate by 2002.
*Visitors attending the meeting reported concerns for the safety of children and elderly citizens, due to a large group of vicious dogs running loose in the city. One complaint concerned sixteen dogs reportedly residing at 912 Lang Street.
City recorder, Treasa Austin, read Section 12 of the cities dog ordinance, stating that dogs with a license can be held for 6 days and unlicensed dogs for 5 days before being destroyed.
Randy Scroggins serves as Leachville's animal control officer.
The council voted to have Scroggins report to the police department, as most animal problem phone calls come to the police.
"A problem in the past is that Randy is often out on the gravel roads and not in town, when a call comes in," said Alderman Estes Williams.
Alderman Junior Robinson asked policeman Ken Womack to contact the speaker from Hot Springs who addressed councilmen at the Municipal League concerning animal ordinance guidelines.
*"Has the city's backhoe been returned yet?" asked Marilyn Looney.
"No, not yet," Alderman Estes Williams said.
The next regularly scheduled council meeting will be on March 4, beginning at 7 p.m.