It was not good news for the city of Manila as Manila Mayor Clifford Veach announced Monday night that city's revenue office is scheduled to close at the end of the month and the grant application for a swimming pool had been rejected.
"Apparently, the closing of our revenue office is on track to close the last day of the month. I've talked to Rep. Marvin Childers about this two or three times and I've written letters," Veach said. "The Legislators encouraged Weiss not to close the offices but have not been successful."
Richard Weiss, director of the Department of Finance and Administration, sent letters approximately two months ago to 33 revenue offices across the state notifying them that they would be closed. Both Manila and Leachville were on the list.
Veach went on to say that some towns are talking to the Revenue Department about paying some of the expenses. The telephone line alone will cost between $9,000 and $10,000 a month.
The city of Manila has always furnished the office space and the utilities at no cost to the state.
"I'm against the county picking up the money on the principal," Veach said. "We are tax payers and the service should be provided. I think it is utterly ridiculous that people will have to drive 28 to 30 miles to get tags. People will probably have to take a whole day off work."
A second let down for the city of Manila was the announcement that the city had been denied on its $238,000 matching grant application for a swimming pool. The city had to have half the money before applying which was done.
"The end result is that we will not be considered this year," Veach said. "We lost points with the committee in planning, design and community involvement. Some of that was hard to swallow but I don't know that it would do any good to challenge. I'm backing up and looking at hanging on the money we have in the account and looking into other options. The letter encouraged me to try again next year. I hate to wait until next year but it may be something we have to do. I believe if we can come up with another $50,000, it can be doable. I thought the plans were adequate. I was told in the beginning that this would not be a good year for pools. I will continue to work on this."
Veach updated the council members on the street paving, sewer expansion and upcoming water project.
Veach said the start of the street paving will depend on the weather, and the sewer expansion project is 94 percent complete. It should be finished by the end of the year. The city will start advertising for bids in December on the upcoming water improvement project. Bids will be opened in January and the project should be on schedule to begin in February or March.
Veach informed the council that he had attended the hearing on Nov. 6 on the county's lawsuit over the jail fees.
"After hearing both sides, the Judge ruled that Attorney General Mark Pryor's opinion of a municipal prisoner is correct. I thought we were there to discuss if the taxes passed for the jail should take care of the cost. I have read news reports that he ruled we have to pay it but I didn't hear that. I plan to get the disposition as soon as it becomes available," Veach said. "I saw it reported in a newspaper that Manila owed $41,000."
Veach presented the 2004 proposed budget to the council.
Veach also updated the council on the city's software used in the accounting system.
"He said that we can do everything we need to do in-house with the program we have. Susan (Jackson) said beginning at the first of the year she will be able to do all of the accounting in-house," Veach said.
Veach praised the Depot Committee for purchasing new Christmas lights for the town.
"The lights are going to be beautiful," Veach said. "We hope to get them up before the parade."
The Manila Christmas parade is Dec. 6.