(Town Crier photo/Revis Blaylock)
Perry Carr with Etc. Engineers and Architects addressed the Manila City Council at the July 16 meeting. Carr said he had contacted Manila's city engineer David Hopkins with Jewell and Associates about talking to Manila city officials concerning the construction of a swimming pool or/and splash pad.
"Our company is similar to Jewell," he said. "Seventy-five percent of our business is parks/recreation development."
Carr said his company has worked with 19 different cities in Arkansas developing plans for pools and water parks, one of the closest being Paragould.
"We have done several spray pad projects," he said.
Carr said his firm is available to help with any planning, public meetings, presentations and writing of grant applications.
He also discussed the possibility of a year round pool that could be utilized by the schools for swim teams. Another option is a pool to be used by the senior population as therapy pools.
"We need to know what the people want," Mayor Clifford Veach said.
Veach said to go forward with a pool, the city will need an additional sales tax.
"We want to get it on the ballot, but we need to know what to ask for," Veach said. "We want a pool, possibly an indoor pool depending on the figures."
Carr was asked to prepare a cost estimate on different pools and a splash pad.
A one cent sales tax was passed several years with an eighth of the tax going toward parks/recreation and pool. The pool portion has accumulated $150,000.
Attorney Wayne Wagner updated the council on the lawsuit with Buffalo Island Regional Water District.
Manila raised the water rates of water purchased by Buffalo Island Rural Water District in January from $1.50 per 1,000 gallons to $2.
Buffalo Island filed a suit claiming Manila has not proven the increase in the cost which goes against the original contract.
"Rather than having an injunction hearing, we agreed we would sell up to two million gallons per month and they would pay the former price of $1.50 per 1,000 gallons with the additional 50 cents going into escrow," Wagner said. "It will depend on the outcome of the hearing if Manila gets the money held in escrow. The water is there for their usage. A hearing date will be set for the fall giving the two parties the opportunity to work out issues. If a hearing becomes necessary it will probably be after Labor Day."
Council members voted to approve employee bonuses with department heads receiving $2,000 and $1,700 for full time employees.
"We've had a good financial year," Veach said. "Our employees have done a good job."
Chief of Police Jackie Hill reported on the city clean-up saying one resident was cited into court and was granted a continuance. He has made contact with property owners on condemned property.
Mayor Veach read an agreement with the city and the U.S. Department of Interior about coverage for wildfires on refuge land. The Refuge would agree to reimburse the fire department for responding to fires at Big Lake.
Retired fireman and city council member Donnie Wagner said it was a good agreement. Council voted unanimously in favor of the contract.
Mayor Veach asked the council to consider the city water rates.
"We are the 13th lowest in the state," Veach said. "We are not making a profit. We need to make sure we can replace equipment down the road when it is needed. I hate to raise any kind of rates but it is something we have to look at. At the next meeting I will have something prepared for your action one way or another."
The Manila City Council meets at 6:30 p.m. the third Monday of each month.