Manila City Council members worked through a busy agenda Monday night accepting bids on the sewer expansion project, agreeing to support the Buffalo Island Relay for Life, extending subsidies for the ambulance service and selecting a park committee.
Mayor Clifford Veach informed the council that bids were opened for the sewer expansion project. The council voted unanimously (5-0) to accept the bid of MBMC Inc. of Greenbriar in the amount of $949,327.94. MBMC bid was the lowest of the 16 bids submitted.
The sewer expansion project will double the city's sewer capacity. The project will be paid for by revenue generated from the one half cent sales tax that voters passed in 2002.
Council members present for the meeting were Dean Cherry, Tony Hawkins, Dwight Booth, Linda Donovan and Larry "Whiz" Davis. Councilman Gaylon Gammill was absent.
Buffalo Island Relay for Life representative Brenda Matheny spoke to the council asked the city officials to sponsor the upcoming 2003 event. Matheny explained that the Relay for Life is the American Cancer society signature event. In 2002, Relay for Life raised $210 million nationwide. The 2002 Buffalo Island Relay for Life was the first in this area. With all of the towns working together, Matheny said the event raised $35,000.
"553,000 Americans will die from cancer this year. Relay for Life represents the hope that one day cancer will be eliminated," Matheny said.
This year's event will take place from 5 p.m. Sept. 19 to 7 a.m. Sept. 20 at the Leachville City Park.
Council members voted unanimously to donate $1,000 to the Relay for Life this year in honor of Manila police Officer Joni Isebell who was recently diagnosed with cancer. The council also agreed to offer the use of the Manila Community Center for a Relay for Life fund raising event.
Mayor Veach told council members that the original agreement for the city to subsidize the ambulance service expires this month. He said he spoke with Ryan Kibler of Medic One this week and Kibler said the ambulance service may need the subsidy extended. Veach said Kibler said the ambulance service needs a minimum of 70 runs per month in the Manila/Leachville area to meets its costs. Currently, Medic One is answering an average of 50 calls per month.
Medic One located in Manila in September of 2002 and the Council agreed to redirect funding from a $1 a month charge for mosquito control to the ambulance service for six months.
Council members agreed that the city needs to take steps to keep the ambulance service in the city. Councilman Linda Donovan made a motion to continue to pay the subsidy for another month and ask a representative of Medic Once to attend the April 21 meeting.
Police Chief Jackie Hill said Medic One has been doing an outstanding job of covering medical emergencies since they have been here. The First Responder team of the Manila fire Department has also been doing a good job of assisting Medic One.
Council members unanimously voted on the establishment of a park planning and advisory committee. This committee will meet and give a report back to the city council each month.
City Attorney Wayne Wagner who will chair the committee said the committee members will work to create and map a long range plan for construction of ball fields, a public swimming pool and other recreation facilities at the Manila City Park, and supervise the day-to-day operations of the park. The committee would also act as an advisory committee to the city council in all matters pertaining to the park.
Committee members selected include Wagner, Terry Carr, Tina Birmingham, William Hill and Dan Gamble.
Council members voted unanimously to approve a change in the pay plan for elected city officials over 65 that are in the Medicare program. Mayor Veach explained that Councilman Cherry is over 65 and participates in the Medicare program making him ineligible for the city insurance plan. Council members are paid $100 per month and the city pays insurance benefits for council members and the mayor in the amount of $240 making a total of $340 a month in benefits. Cherry has been paid $160 a month in the past to compensate for the insurance exemption. However, Medicare supplement through Blue Cross-Blue Shield costs more than the $60 a month.
A motion was made to change the city policy to allow the difference in the insurance value to be paid directly to any elected city official participating in Medicare and ineligible for the city's insurance program.
Mayor Veach said he had made a trip to Little Rock last week and met with agency representatives from the Arkansas Department of Economic Development and the Arkansas Department of Parks and tourism.
"I'm trying to get grants for three projects, additional tornado sirens, swimming pool, and sewer hook-ups," Veach said. We should know by the fall if will be approved," Veach said.
The council voted last month to make sewer services available to seven houses on Lake Street.
Mayor Veach said that the Municipal League legal defense program is going to work with the cities on the upcoming lawsuit over the jail fees and has agreed to represent Manila even though the city has not previously participated in the Municipal League legal defense program. Council members voted unanimously to pay the $2,000 annual fee.
In other business:
*Mayor Veach announced that city hall roof bids would be opened on Tuesday. The council voted at the February meeting to accept bids for a metal roof at city hall.
*Mayor Veach also announced that the fire truck has been repaired and is ready to be picked up.
*Mayor Veach said that Leachvile officials had met and approved to partner with Manila on animal control efforts. Manila and Leachville will share Steve Bowman as animal control officer. Bowman began his duties in Manila on March 10.
*A request for a setback variance requested by Junior Wise for construction of an office complex located on Baltimore and Floyd Street, next to the Church of God of Prophecy. The council had no objection to the variance as long as the church members approve. The variance would be adjacent the parking area of the church.