Caraway City Council OKs sale of land

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Town Crier News Staff

Caraway council members agreement to sell city property at a pre-set rate during the Thursday, Feb. 8, meeting resulted in a veto from Mayor Barry Riley on Friday, Feb. 9.

"After the meeting, I looked up the legalities of the council's decision and realized the city would not be able to do this without a resolution," Riley said. "At that time I vetoed their decision. We will need to meet again and do it right."

Alderman Bo James brought up the discussion about the prospects of selling the Water and Sewer Department land adjoining the Basler Addition, east of town. The city had agreed to sell it several years ago, if the details could be worked out.

"Don Zimmerman, with the Municipal League, says we can sell it, but it will need to be surveyed," Riley said.

Mitchell Tipton inquired about the sale of the property.

"I think we should go forward on this," Councilman Diane Powell said. "I don't know why not to do it."

"Who should assume the cost to do the survey?" Riley asked. "Do we do all of it or part of it? We need to set an ordinance to sell the land. We need to set the cost."

"It is ready to be surveyed and sold," James said. "All it needs is to be surveyed."

"There are 21 lots, about 131x80 feet each," Riley said. "At one time the surveys were going to cost us $250 but they may cost $400 now."

"It would cost $25,000 to put a sewer system down there, with one line and a lift station," Water and Sewer Department Superintendent Terry Couch said. "Also, are we going to sell it by cost per foot? Prices change weekly and it has been some time since we talked about pricing."

"What if just one person wants to buy a lot?" James asked.

"One push pump will be needed for one person," Couch said. "That would be a minimal cost. If the number of interested people grows then we can expand as needed. One lift station won't pull it all, with what we have now."

Powell asked if that would pick up the Wheeler land, south of the property. Couch said no.

"Even if it cost $400 per lot to survey, the city could make this back," James said.

"That would be a lot of money for the city to pay," Riley sad.

"We would be dead men before we could pay for $25,000 and the cost to have it surveyed," Couch said. "It is not feasible to pay that for one house. It would cost us $2,000 in material to go down there also. Over all it will cost us about $75,000 to do all the lots."

"I don't think we would have many people build down there," James said.

The council discussed the lot buyer paying for his own expenses.

"We can't differentiate selling to some at one price and selling to new people at another," James said.

The city has five lots already surveyed, north of Larry Brooks' house.

The council had previously set 3.7 cents per square foot plus cost of the survey.

The council unanimously approved the sale of property to Tipton for 3.7 cents per square foot, and for him to pay for push pump.

The council reinforced the ordinance governing the dog-leash policy and asked the police department to enforce it. Any animals not complying with the ordinance will be picked up and owners charged to get them back. Owners will need to pay at city hall and will receive a receipt to make it legal.

"If we already had an ordinance to that effect, then why were they not paying already?" Alderman John Boatman asked.

"I don't know why, as I was not mayor then," said Riley.

"They have been breaking in and getting their dogs back," said Police Chief Jerry Vaughn.

"We need to invest in fencing and get a surveillance camera down there," said Alderman Mike Vaughn."

The council passed Ordinance 1987-3, amending sections 3 and 4, and agreed to enforce the paying of pickup fees, maintaining the fence, and the use of surveillance equipment to apprehend intruders. This will be effective as of March 1, 2007. They removed the requirement to pay for an animal tag and collar, as in the past, and added a $10 cost to get their animal back if picked up for non-compliance. Twenty five dollars will be charged if it is a second pickup, $50 for a third, and $50 each time after that during a six month period.

Mayor Riley announced city hall would be open during lunch time to accommodate those who had city business.

"The ladies in the office will stagger their lunch times to keep the office open," Riley said.

Three thousand dollars was donated by the city to the Caraway Ambulance Service, as a standard procedure to help offset the expenses in operating the much needed local service.

Other areas of discussion included the Rural Water deficit of $2,000, getting the water and sewer service back in shape, and regulate cost to provide services.

"Right now we are spending more than we are bringing in," Riley said.

The council voted to go into executive session to discuss paying overtime for the Police Department.

After reconvening the council voted to provide officers four hours of comp time for working while other officers are off duty, and that overtime be taken care of.

Officer William "Pete" Hicks has completed his six months of probation, and will receive $100 more a month, totaling $12,000, effective immediately.

In other business:

*Cleffie Gipson, site manager for the Caraway Senior Citizens, addressed the council thanking them for their continued support.

"I want to say thank you to the former mayor, Joe South, and to the past council," Gipson said. "I am also excited about working with the new mayor, Barry Riley, and the new council.

"We are looking for an activities leader to work with the seniors and deliver meals," Gipson said. "They will work four hours a day and we pay $8 per hour. Please call me if you know someone who would do good with this work. We also need work done on the roof, as it is leaking.

"Right now we need some of you to teach us how to run a floor buffer," she said. "We have a new buffer and haven't had much success in finding out how to run it."

Jerry Vaughn agreed to show Gipson how to operate the machine.

"Jerry also comes to my rescue when I can't get into the van.

"I live in the country but want to help with city organizations," she said. "So call me and let me know what I can do. We should all work together and not pull apart. Our center is great, but I can't do everything by myself. That is the same thing with the city. When we can talk about things then we can work them out.

"It takes everyone to make things work, like the Fourth of July celebration - instead of little groups just squabbling."

"Barry (Riley) is going to do a good job for the city, even though he has a full time job," she said. "He won't please everyone, because some people just can't be pleased.

*"The basketball goal facing School Street needs to be taken down, as it is on city right-of-way," said James. "It is the last house on the right. That is Jerry's (Vaughn) job."

Vaughn agreed to take care of the situation.

*The council approved the recommendation of the Caraway Housing Authority to appoint Billy Pendergrass as a board director.

*Upon the recommendation of County Judge Dale Haas, the council passed Resolution 2007-1 for the county to sell land for the Bono Lake project to help with flood relief, drainage and recreation. Partners in the project include Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Corps of Engineers, the City of Bono, and Craighead County.

Mayor Riley reviewed bids on city equipment, with the council. No decisions were realized.

The next regularly scheduled council meeting will be on March 8, beginning at 6 p.m. at city hall.

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