Monette Council approves mayor/employees pay raises

Wednesday, July 7, 2004

The Monette City Council set employee salary increases, discussed library obligations, and accepted the resignation of a police officer at the regular council meeting June 28.

The council reviewed salary increase proposals. Alderman Tom Carroll proposed that the council increase all city employees and Mayor David Fletcher's salaries two percent, and give an employee bonus of one week's salary. Employees will then be receiving pay for their previous week's work, instead of their current week's work.

"It has been very hectic to pay employees for the current week's work, by Friday, when they have not even completed that day's work," Carroll said. "When the treasurer has to be out of town or is out of the office, it has been very difficult and rushed to get payroll done in time. As it was, we were paying for hours employees had not even worked yet.

The council approved the two percent raise and week's salary bonus to employees and mayor, gave a three percent increase only to the recorder/treasurer, and no increases to councilmen.

Mayor Fletcher reviewed discussion between himself and the Craighead/Jonesboro Public Library board chairman and library staff, concerning needed repairs at the Kohn Memorial Library in Monette.

"We had problems with the air conditioning at the library last month," Fletcher said. "I approached the Craighead/Jonesboro Library concerning repairs or replacement of the unit. There was a question about who was responsible. We own the building but had understood that they were responsible for its upkeep."

"In October 1994, library board members, Monette librarian Martha Wallace, and Phyllis Burkett, of Jonesboro, asked to make a presentation to the city council," Fletcher said, referring to the council minutes. "They asked us about paying a two mill tax to the county library, instead of the one mill we were currently paying. They told us that if we would support the increase then they would take care of the maintenance of our library.

"Next the library board decided to build a new library at Lake City and renovate the Monette and Caraway libraries. Burkett spoke to the council about the cost of making improvements to the Kohn Library. The current mayor, Robert Flannigan, proposed building a new library at the city park. The county board made the decision and paid for the renovation of the present library structure, instead of building a new one.

"In 1998, we discussed the payment of insurance on the library with the county library. Since we owned the structure, and had an insurance option with the Municipal League for lesser cost, we agreed to pay for the insurance. We also pay for water, sewer, trash pickup, moving, garbage and pest control.

"Whenever we get calls from Martha, we always try to help. The county was not willing to pay for the repair or replacement of the air conditioning, so the city had no choice but to pay for it. There is a misunderstanding here.

"In 1988 Mayor Flannigan brought up the possibility of deeding the library to the county, as they get two mills tax to provide for all their libraries. The council decided to leave it as it was and retain the ownership."

"There are ways we could deed the property to the county, under the same type of agreement that BIC made to us on the park property. If the property was not used for the purposes given, then the deed would revert to the previous owners. We need to structure an arrangement so that it is pleasing to everyone. If the county had the deed and paid for everything, then they would be paying out a lot more than they are paying now, with our help."

The council discussed the possibilities and tabled a decision until more information could be obtained.

The council went into executive session to discuss the acceptance of a resignation from patrolman Steve Lancaster. The council asked that Lancaster's immediate supervisor, Brian Carmichael, be present for the discussion.

The council reconvened and voted unanimously to accept Lancaster's resignation.

Other business included:

*Alderman Byron Sparkman reported on the city's fragile water and sewer lines, and the collapse of a line underneath a recently paved street.

*Aldermen reported on comments concerning the painting of the water tower, the impressiveness of the city's name in 18 foot letters, and the Mustang decal.

*Alderman Steve Suber reported on the Buffalo Island Leadership meeting and the effort to draw new industries to the area.

"Monette needs a 160 acre plot for location of new industry," Suber said. "We need more than just 10 acres, or corners in order to develop industry. Hopefully some property will become available that we can use for marketing."

*Alderman Ernestine Harrell announced that the City Beautification Committee has selected the home of Dick and Deb Pace as June Monette Yard of the Month.

"Monette yards have been reviewed, that needed attention, and the list has been turned into the city," Harrell said.

Properties at 209 Braden and 606 Texie were especially targeted for improvements.

*Mayor Fletcher reported that the city auditors would arrive on July 6 to begin the 2003 Water and Sewer Department audit.

*Mayor Fletcher reported on the proposed four-lane widening of Highway 139 North and the improvements to Highway 139 and Highway 18 intersection.

*The council voted to refurbish and repair the city clarification unit at the city sewer plant and to bring it under compliance.

The next regularly scheduled council meeting will be at 7 p.m. July 26 at city hall.

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