Leachville Council upset over jail fee increase

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Leachville City Council met Monday, Nov. 7, and voiced their concerns over the proposed raise in Mississippi County jail fees for municipal prisoners.

Mayor Ralph Wells read a letter form attorney Daniel G. Ritchey concerning cost increases for housing prisoners, and authorizing three options for payment.

"Looks like the jail fee issue is back in the spotlight," said Wells.

Option one was a 12 month agreement at the rate of $30 per day, option two was a 36 month agreement at the rate of $25 per day, and option three was a 36 month agreement at the rate of $20 per day for the first year, $25 for the second and $30 for the third year.

"We agreed last time to pay $15 per day," said Wells. "There were two tax increases on the county jail already. When it was built they said there was enough revenue to operate the jail, then they turned around and added the two tax increases. This is pretty expensive on us as a small city."

"We get calls all the time to give police coverage to things over here," he said. "We do a lot to help the county. They save money by having our help, and we never charge them anything for it. But they charge us for every little thing. With a 100 percent increase I don't think the city can bear it. We just don't have the money."

"We answer several calls for them when they need us," said Ken Womack, Leachville Chief of Police. "It would be hard to sit here and not respond. I disagree on the increase in jail fees. They have a history of accepting Arkansas Department of Correction prisoners before municipal prisoners and turning us away."

"They often tell us they don't have room for all the prisoners," Wells said. "They have a whole third floor they don't use. We may be the city of Leachville, but we are still in the county, and they need to remember that."

After a lengthy discussion between the council and city attorney Mike Bearden, the council voted to table the decision until the December meeting.

Mayor Wells said the city has been audited for 2005 and that David J. Craft, state auditor, will present the report to the Arkansas Legislative Audit Committee.

"This is not a full audit, but rather an agreed upon procedure," Wells said. "He said were doing a good job and left some things we need to work on. We need to bring our assets up to date, which we can do."

A sanitary survey was done by the Arkansas Health Department and they informed the city there was need for a licensed operator.

Wells asked council members to help put together the 2006 city budget.

"I want all of you to be involved with the budgeting process," said Wells. "We will probably need to call a special meeting to work on it, after you consult with the different departments."

Aldermen passed Ordinance #2005-7 and #2005-8, on the first reading, confirming previous increases in water rates, which are already in effect, and to keep existing sewer rates. The second and third readings will take place Dec. 5, after a notice is posted at Heritage Bank, Southern Bank of Commerce, Leachville Drug, the Malt Shop and Frontier. A public meeting will be held at the next council meeting, beginning at 7 p.m. at city hall.

Other business included:

*Confirmation that 18 firemen are currently insured under the Fire-fighters Income Protection Plan, which will be due for renewal in 2006.

*Christmas parade is scheduled for Dec. 10 at 6 p.m. The parade line up will begin at 5:30 at the BIC East Elementary.

*The council accepted the resignation of municipal judge Marvin Childers, and voted to pay attorney Shannon Langston $250 per court session to sit as city judge. City Attorney Mike Bearden agreed to be present when court is in session, the first and third Tuesdays of each month.

*Trash Collection Committee reported they were not in favor of starting a city trash collection service at this time.

*Agreed to make the corner of Doc Rodman and Main Street handicapped accessible.

*Discussed cleaning of streets and agreed to look into it.

*Discussed limitations of people riding in police cars and police living outside city limits. No action was taken.

*City clerk was requested to have all record information on hand at meetings, in case she is called upon to refer to them.

*Discussed hiring a part time employee to work in water department during vacation periods.

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