Skate park, personnel discussed by Monette Council

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Town Crier News Staff

The Monette City Council met Jan.22 and reviewed 2007 budget, agenda guidelines, chain of command, and listed committee chairmen.

Mayor Chub Qualls reviewed the proposed 2007 budget with the six city councilmen. After a short discussion the council approved the new $60,000 general fund budget.

"Former Mayor David Fletcher and I worked on this budget, and I felt it looks real good," Qualls said.

Mayor Qualls enacted a new policy for being on the agenda for council meetings.

"People have to come and talk with me if they want to be on the agenda," Qualls said. "It is not enough if the want to come to city hall and talk with someone else. Many times things can be worked out without having to go before the council."

"I don't think we need council members assigned to commissioners of departments," he said. "Employees only want to answer to one person. They just want one boss. I feel that employees should answer to me."

City councilmen will continue to work closely with individual departments. Tom Carroll will work with the Water Department, Steve Suber with Industrial Development, Jamie Strickland will be chairman of the Park Committee, Joyce Read will be chairman of the Beautification Committee and Chairman of the Oversight Committee, and Ernestine Harrell has agreed to serve as chairman of the new Museum Committee.

New business included: Alderman Byron Sparkman said the Street Department has several projects coming up during 2007; Tom Carroll reported there would be water plant things to discuss later; and Steve Suber reported the need for attention on houses at 300-302 Honis and 307 Nance.

"I have been asked many times if I can keep the city clean," Qualls said. "I have several more houses I want to add to the list. These may be my first enemies. We plan to go about this in a mannerly way and we will be strict on it."

Alderman Strickland addressed concern that the city's tennis courts are not being used.

"Both of our courts are not being used," said Strickland. "I am concerned about the young people in our community. I think we should look into building a skate board part. It would be worth going after. They are downtown skating. Our city could benefit from having a court at the park, and it would keep kids off the street."

Strickland referred to the park at Paragould and considered using one of the tennis courts for a skate park.

Alderman Martha Jane Hout referred to the existing grant on the tennis court, not wanting to go against grant agreement.

"If the tennis courts were in good shape, people might want to come and play," Tom Carroll said. "I have seen people waiting in line to play tennis. We might be able to locate the skateboard park somewhere else in the park and redo the tennis courts.

"We can apply for a grant in August to build a skateboard park," said Recorder Vickki Carroll.

"We need to look into the cost of doing these projects and bring it up again," said Suber.

"The city shop was in disarray when I looked at it," Qualls said. "I have talked to the boys and asked if they had proper tools. They are using many of their own. We need to buy some city tools. They have got the shop organized and it is looking good.

"We have enclosed a storage area and are locking up the tools. Now they will be accountable for the tools."

"Brian (Carmichael) said the men need a couple of vests, costing approximately $1,000 each," Qualls said. "We can work them into the Police Department budget and not overspend."

Qualls addressed the issue of patrolman Toby Rand going to work for the City of Lake City, when his time was not up with the City of Monette.

"I think his buy-out period should be honored by Lake City," Qualls said. "They should reimburse us for him.

"Brian is looking for someone to replace him. We have put an ad in the Jonesboro Sun, and received 12 or 13 applicants. Some are certified and some are not. We have narrowed the field down to ones who would best fit into our community. One officer from Blytheville is still under buy-out time, but is certified. With his vacation time and our holding off for two weeks, we could get him for $1,300. He is a good fit for us."

The council voted to allow Police Chief Brian Carmichael to make the choice.

"We will save $7,000 by not having to send him to school," said Carmichael.

"I talked to the employees about their jobs and pay amounts," Qualls said. "Bill Benham is on the bottom of the list and I think we should give him a raise from $9.74 to $10.25."

The council agreed.

"There has been a misunderstanding with the Parks Association concerning an emergency set-aside fund," said Qualls. "That was not right. A fund did not need to be set aside as specified."

Jamie Strickland was asked to bring a representative from the MYA to the next council meeting to discuss this.

Mayor Qualls instructed the MYA to meet and go ahead with their project, then bring back to council.

"Curt Huckaby is our city attorney, but when we have a problem we call Don Zimmerman, with the Municipal League," said Qualls. "With Johnny Dunigan being here in town, I think we should support him. He is on the Buffalo Island Leadership team and close at hand should we need him."

The council voted to use Johnny Dunigan as city attorney.

Mayor Qualls discussed a new plan to hire two people 55 or older for janitorial services, under a federal program to pay for 20 hours a week.

The council agreed to review for possible use.

Mayor Qualls recommended separating the two meter readers to put one to better use somewhere else and look at the use of golf carts for reading.

The council agreed.

Qualls informed alderman Suber that money has been budgeted for the purchase of a new mower and for him to obtain bids.

The council approved Suber to take care of the purchase of mower project.

The council discussed expansion of the city limits with widening of Highway 18, requests for sewer service, and requests for police protection.

The next regularly scheduled council meeting is set for 7 p.m. Feb. 26.

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