Manila spring clean up set for May

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Manila City Council members set the annual spring-clean up for every Saturday in May at the Monday, April 28 meeting.

Mayor Clifford Veach said every Saturday in May seemed to work well last year. There will be no charge at the Manila transfer station to city residents during Saturdays in May. The transfer station will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Water and sewer superintendent Henry Ford said items that can not be discarded at the landfill include old tires, batteries, shingles, or chemicals.

Manila Chief of Police Jackie Hill gave an update on the city clean-up reporting that 14 letters had been sent in April.

"I've seem some improvements," Hill said. "I've had a good response form the letters. The weather is getting nice and residents have responded positive to the notices."

Mike Ebbert with Mutual of Omaha Insurance Company in Jonesboro spoke to the council on health benefit options for city employees.

Ebbert talked about health insurance options saying he can write health insurance for several companies.

"I've talked to Mayor Veach and know that you are insured through the Municipal League. There is nothing wrong with the Municipal League but it shuts down some of your choices," Ebbert said.

He explained that by state law, employees have to work a minimum of 30 hours a week for group insurance coverage.

"That leaves out your fire department," Ebbert said. "I'm not in any way trying to kick your fire department out."

One option he discussed was writing individual policies for the fire department, the city paying the firemen that amount to purchase the individual insurance.

"If we do that, the firemen are covered and then you can shop it (insurance coverage) for other employees," Ebbert said. "If we do that your insurance costs are going to be cheaper."

He said he was not trying to make the fire department mad.

"The individual health insurance can be cheaper and they can have options on what they want," Ebbert said. "That would free the city to shop around."

He gave several other options for the city to consider during his presentation.

Mayor Veach said he could not recommend any changes at this time but said he will continue to look into the city employee health insurance costs and keep the council updated.

Mayor Veach informed the council that everything is in place for the employee retirement investment plan and withholdings should begin either May 1 or 15.

"We have employees with money in the other account, some have a pretty sizable amount built up, but they will not transfer that money into the retirement plan," Mayor Veach said. "It is up to the council on how to deal with that. I've thought about leaving it over there, it won't be loosing anything and when an employee quits they can have it. If an employee wants the money to invest in a better investment plan, I would help with that."

Veach updated the council on the water improvement project saying all the work is done and there is a $39,000 contingency fund remaining.

"Henry (water supervisor) and I have talked and he came up with a needs' list," Mayor Veach said. "The money will cover everything on the list. The list has been sent to the Soil and Water and she said she did not see anything unacceptable on the list. One item on the list is a new roof for the treatment plant. As soon as the list is approved I will get back with the council."

Mayor Veach said Mike Mullinix had expressed an interest in purchasing the old bank building located on the corner of Baltimore and Concord. The bank building was deeded to the city years ago.

"Mike wants to buy it and put a business in it," Veach said.

Councilman Dwight Booth said putting a business in where there is not one now is always good.

Council members expressed no objection and Mayor Veach said he would contact Paul Robbins to get an appraisal.

Mayor Veach said he thought there was a need to have a salary schedule in place.

"I sent memos on salary schedules for existing and new hire employees," Veach said. "I want to get your opinion. The feedback I'm getting from the outside crew is they like this rather than bonuses.

Councilman Leroy Douglas said that the salary schedule looked good to him.

Councilman Gaylon Gammill asked if the city would give bonuses to employees after they reached maximum limit on the salary schedule. Veach said the council could do that if they wanted.

The council voted unanimously to adopt the employee salary schedule.

Mayor Veach said he was looking into contract labor for seasonal jobs.

"That is less expensive on the city," Veach said. "I talked to Don Zimmerman of the Municipal League and he said he could not find a legal reason against it. It makes sense to me. If we can come up with the right contract, I think we can get the kind of help we need."

Mayor Veach said he feels it is time for the city to start looking seriously at additional storm sirens.

"We have a little more money than we had two years ago," Veach said. It is probably too late to get it installed by this storm season."

He said he would have more information on the subject at the next council meting.

Councilman Dwight Booth said he had been asked if the city is going to give a donation to the Buffalo Island Relay For Life again this year and allow the group to use the Community Center for a fund-raising event.

Veach said he had copies from the auditor saying that the city cannot legally give donations to private organizations or non-profit organizations unless it is for public cause.

"As much as I like it (Relay for Life), it is not a public cause," Veach said.

Veach said the group can use the Community Center for a fund-raising event.

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