LHA assumes management of community center

Thursday, February 12, 2004

The Leachville City Council discussed the Leachville Housing Authority, water department assignments, and heard reports from city department heads at the regular meeting Feb. 2.

Betty Jo Eldried, Leachville Housing Authority director, addressed the council concerning the management of the community building. Several members of the LHA board were also present.

"In 1969 we (the Leachville Housing Authority board) turned the community building over to the city," Eldried said. "We would like it back, to fully take care of it. We already take care of things, like repairs, inspection, do mowing and trimming, and pay insurance. We are willing to take care of monetary needs and see to it things get done."

"Before you came on the scene, the city put a lot of money into that building," Leachville Mayor Ralph Wells said. "Are you all planning on giving us reimbursement for what we did."

"No," Eldried replied. "But, we will take care of everything that needs doing. It needs new windows and the outside hydrants fixed. My board is all for taking care of the total responsibility of it."

The council voted unanimously to sign an agreement giving responsibility for the community center back to the LHA.

Mayor Wells discussed purchasing a new pressure system, from Henard Products, for $29,106, for cleaning sewer lines.

"We are using about $450 to $500 a month now to clean our sewer lines, when we have to call on Roto-Rooter," Wells said. "In the long run we would be just as well off to go ahead and buy a machine ourselves. The payment of the new machine would be $550 a month."

After a brief discussion the council voted unanimously to buy the machine.

The council also voted to purchase new chlorine scales from Arkansas Water Products for $559, for use by the water department.

The council agreed to pay for one local telephone line, for use by the Revenue Office, to be used for local calls only. The city had previously been billed for two telephone lines.

The council voted to contract with Craighead County Roofing for $4,670 to put a new metal roof on the Melody Theatre.

"We have had nine or 10 panels fall down, due to leakage," Wells said. "Something had to be done."

Water Department employee, Marcia Davis, addressed the council concerning clarification of her job duties and responsibilities. Davis distributed copies of a prepared letter from her to the council and the mayor, where she listed 14 different job responsibilities.

"I cannot handle the stress of my job the way it is now," Davis said. "I was asked to be a purchasing agent, and moved my desk into Mayor Wells' office. I still assist in the water department when needed, as before."

The council reviewed the 14 job listings.

"Aren't some of these things the recorder's job?" asked councilman Karen Wallace.

"No, they are not," recorder Treasa Austin said.

"If this was her job (purchasing), then why did you vote me in as the purchasing agent?" Davis asked.

"Marsha was hired to work in the water department and help write grants," councilman Bill Hetler said. "Now we have asked her to be purchasing agent, which we need badly. We voted for her to have her desk in the Mayor's office."

"I didn't realize that you were doing all these things," Wallace said. "I thought the recorder was doing some of these."

"What can we eliminate to help you with your job?" councilman Sheila Spurlock asked.

"She can't concentrate on her job if she is in the water department," Hetler said.

"I can't stay in there 24/7 and do all this other stuff," Davis said. "I'm not going to do purchasing and stay in the water department."

"She is in the water department 75 percent of the time," Wells said.

"I don't think you should complain, if you volunteered to do these jobs," councilman Rick Hamilton said.

"I'm not complaining, but I just want you to let me know if you want me to continue as I am, or to accept this letter as my resignation," said Davis.

The council voted 5-0 for Davis to continue her duties, in the water department and purchasing, with the same pay scale and benefits (from cable and electrical bill payments collections) as before. Hamilton abstained from voting.

The council discussed guidelines for obtaining purchasing orders before purchases were made. An instance of emergency telephone repair costs, made by patrolman Keith Evans was discussed.

"I had my cell phone repaired, and it was insured," Evans said. "When I picked it up they asked me for a $35 fee, that was not covered by insurance. I had to have my phone and had no choice, so I paid it myself. On my way home I called city hall to tell them what had happened and was told I should have had a purchase order number to make purchases. I don't feel like that was a purchase."

By the new purchasing order guidelines, Police Chief Ken Womack could have approved the expenditure but was not contacted before hand.

"This was one of those emergency things, that is going to come up from time to time," said Mayor Wells. "We can be as crazy about this thing as you want. This is babyish. I'm not going begging for $35 dollars, every time we need something."

"Mayor, I have nothing against Keith, but all he had to do was to pick up the phone and call to get a purchasing order," said Hetler. "We voted to do the purchasing order thing. This is why we can't get anything done, because you want to make a fuss over it every time. This is why the city is in the shape it is."

"No use doing anything, if he (the mayor) is not going to live up to it." said Hamilton.

Mayor Wells and council members expressed their appreciation for the monthly reports turned in by department heads.

"These reports are excellent," said Spurlock. "Without information, we don't ever know what is going on in the city. We can't make good decisions on their behalf."

Mayor Wells stated that doing the reports took the men a lot of time.

"When they are sitting down at the city shop drinking coffee, they could be working on their reports," said Hamilton.

Wells defended the city shop employees.

Spurlock inquired about Leachville becoming a first class city.

Wells agreed to check with the Arkansas Municipal League as to what needed to be done and the benefits of making the change.

The council met previously on Jan. 30 and adopted the proposed 2004 city budget.

The next regularly scheduled council meeting will be at 7 p.m. March 1 at city hall.

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