Leachville Council votes to place city sales tax on ballot

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

The Leachville City Council met at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 6, and discussed street paving, information on tax deficit, and possible implementation of city sales tax.

Request for paving of Honey Cypress Lane and Bandy Street were heard by the council, concerning need at homes of Larry Puckett and Terry Stewart.

Leachville Mayor Ralph Wells estimated the paving to cost $10,000, which would include materials and labor.

"We would like to do the necessary paving, but we don't have the money to do it," Councilman Rick Hamilton said.

"You paved down Swihart Lane and they helped pay on it," Tom Puckett said.

"Not all of them," Wells replied. "Before, we have asked for $500 from each property owner. Robert Pierce is selling lots for Dorothy Robinson, one at a time. This property is not an addition, where the developer pays for paving, and puts in water and sewer."

"I would be willing to pay $2,000 for Larry," Puckett said.

"Terry said he would pay his part," Alderman Bill Hetler said.

Alderman Hamilton moved that the city pave the streets, when they collected the money from Larry Puckett, Terry Stewart or Robert Pierce, and let the city pick up the balance. The motion died for a lack of a second.

The council agreed to table the motion, until more information could be obtained.

The council voted to officially name the street, that Terry Stewart lives on, Bandy Street.

Mayor Wells read a letter from Mississippi County Judge Steve McGuire concerning the fall cleanup.

"Extra roll off dumpsters would be provided, and the county would pick up half of the tipping fee for dumping," Wells said. "When we asked if they would give us a discount on the spring cleanup we just had, we were told not only no, but hell no. It is too late to notify our people of the set Sept. 11 cleanup."

"We don't need to be doing any free dumping, if the city is in the shape you'll say it is," Mark Johnson said. "You've got to be looking at ways to save money."

After a brief discussion the council voted not to take part in the fall cleanup.

"We are short $50,000 of tax income already" Alderman Monte Grimes said.

Mayor Wells read a letter from city attorney Mike Bearden to John Theis, Assistant Revenue Commissioner, concerning the withholding tax owed by the city. The letter read, "I represent the City of Leachville, Ark., and they have requested that I contact you in regard to employees withholding taxes which were not paid to the revenue department for the years 2001 through the middle of this year. This was all a result of a city clerk who was responsible for withholding the taxes and paying the money to the state, which she did not do. The Mayor and City Council were not aware of this problem until later. The City Clerk resigned shortly after this and several other matters were brought to her attention.

I will appreciate it if you will have someone in your office or the collections office review payments made by the City of Leachville and let me know how much the City owes the State of Arkansas. We are also having to pay money to the federal government, but we do not know how much at this time."

The council awaits a response from Bearden's letters to John Theis and Frank Heath, Tax Resolutions, in Georgetown, Texas.

The council discussed using Layne-Arkansas to cap off and close old water well, at a cost of $3,000 to $3,500. They also discussed replacing waste treatment drying beds and filtration.

The need for a city tax was discussed, as a solution to solving water and sewer improvement needs.

"We may be looking at an increase in water and sewer rates soon, if we do not pass a city sales tax," Wells said. "A one cent city sales tax could be divided with 1/2 cent going to water and 1/2 cent going to the general fund. Blytheville has a one cent tax, Jonesboro has a one cent tax, Manila has one cent and Lake City has 1/2 cent city tax. We will have to act fast if we plan to get this on the ballot for this election."

The council voted to place the city sales tax on this year's ballot.

"We can let the people decide," said alderman Hetler. "A cent sales tax would be better than having to raise water and sewer rates right now."

The council voted to purchase two swing gates at $700 for the sewer treatment plant, to storage and access for the sewer cleaning machine.

The council voted to not allow any employee to pick up their pay checks until Friday morning, of each week, in order to allow city bookkeeper time to get adeposit to the bank on Thursday.

"We have got to work our way through all this," Ruth Ann Keith said. "This will take us a while but we can do it."

During council comments, alderman Rick Hamilton asked, "Has the city hired any new employees? Have we hired a bailiff?"

"We don't run the court system," Wells said. "The judge does that. We would not hire a bailiff."

The next regularly scheduled council meeting will be at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 4, at city hall.

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