Skip Layne, area operations manager for CenturyTel, addressed the Monette City Council concerning potential rate increases in providing universal service at the regular council meeting May 24.
"Pending legislative and regulatory issues have the potential of causing an increase in telephone service," Layne said. "We are making an all-out effort to talk to community leaders about the issues that may impact the ability of communities to compete economically with urban areas in the future.
"If the new Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) providers successfully avoid paying fees to use the local phone company network, the National Exchange Carrier Association (NECA) predicts customers served by providers who serve small towns could see an increase to basic rates of up to $25 per line, on average, per month.
"Imagine what would happen if the government suddenly decided to stop sharing the cost of providing rural electricity or interstate highways among all users across the nation. Instead, imagine they decided that residents in small towns and rural areas should pay a much higher cost for those services than residents in big cities. If these services were discontinued, then rural America would essentially be shut off from the rest of the world.
"The old regulatory structure created decades ago has been outdated by changes in technology. Technology is moving so fast, and rural America can hardly afford to be a technology "have-not" in the global economy.
"The debate is just beginning. We can see some real problems arising, if internet companied do not have to pay taxes and franchises to stay in business. When your competition does not play by the same rules as we are held to, is could be disasterous. As this process unfolds, we will keep the public informed about key rural telephone policy issues and how those discussions impact your community."
Police Chief Brian Carmichael gave a monthly police report and overview.
"We had 19 calls this month, and 90 traffic stops," Carmichael said. "Thirty two of the stops resulted in 50 charges. We had 42 items on the court docket for this month."
"I think you have slowed the traffic down," Alderman Steve Suber said.
"We have received several calls about speeders and four-wheelers," Mayor Fletcher said. "All three of our officers try to do things in a consistent and fair way, while trying to slow traffic down and keep the streets and highways safe.
"Monette does a very good job in comparison with other towns in our area. We don't measure performance on tickets and revenue. The officers are trying to do their jobs in a natural and polite way."
"There is more to being a policeman in Monette than just traffic," Alderman Tom Carroll said.
"Absolutely true, and our policemen also make an effort to stay involved with people," Mayor Fletcher replied.
"Highway 139 North is our worst place for speeders," Carmichael said. "Our factories are there as well as the nursing home and residential areas. We have to especially slow people down coming into Monette. Highway 18 traveling east is another spot to watch."
The council discussed painting the new water tower.
"The water tower is off white, with a blue mustang and letters wrapped around, for greatest visual effect," Mayor Fletcher said. "The mustang and letters are 18 feet tall."
Alderman Earl Read requested that the city place two mustangs on the tower, in front of and behind the lettering, for visibility from the east, as well as the north and west.
"While we are doing it, let's do it right," Read said.
"The extra mustang will cost around $3,200, but if that is what the council wants, I'll look into it and get it done," Mayor Fletcher said.
"We are currently running a four-inch water line to the safe house, and work is underway," Alderman Tom Carroll said.
"The foundation for the safe room has been poured," Fletcher said.
Alderman Suber reported the Buffalo Island Leadership group meets the third Monday of each month. A representative from Arkansas Industrial Development will be the next speaker.
Alderman Ernestine Harrell reported that a ribbon cutting ceremony was planned for McFarlin Pharmacy on Thursday, May 27, at 10 a.m.
Mayor Fletcher announced that the Arkansas Municipal League meeting will be held June 16-18 in Little Rock.
The council reviewed several houses or yards in Monette that need attention and cleaning up. These included: 606 Texie; 300 Stewart; 290 N. Williams; 209 Braden (a house which sits in front of a mobile home); and a house on Nance.
Harrell announced that the City Beautification Committee would select a Yard of the Month for May and compile a list of houses and yards needing work done on them.
The next regularly scheduled council meeting will be 7 p.m. June 28, at City Hall.