Town Crier News Staff
Leachville councilmen were in session for over three hours Monday evening, Jan. 14, working through a packed agenda. Long and frequent meetings have proven to be the norm for this determined and involved group of city officials.
Mayor Sheila Spurlock gave her first State of the City address before the meeting got into full swing.
"The past 12 months have been both productive and a time of change," she said. "The city has a council that has truly worked on the issues and the needs of our community by setting goals, objectives and priorities."
She went on to explain how the city managed to pay $237,000 on the federal tax debt that they inherited after taking office. She said the interest and penalties were another $248,355, which is to be waived and the debt reduced to interest only in the amount of $110,000 or less.
"We intend to pay this debt as soon as we possibly can," Spurlock said. "Once the tax debt is paid then we will be eligible to apply for grants again. We have implemented an Employee Handbook, and all departments have worked to stay within their budgets.
"Each member of the council has made a valuable contribution to our progress this past year. They are sincerely concerned about everything that goes on in the city. They have come up with excellent ideas and suggestions in order to do what is best for the city as a whole. City employees are to be commended also for their part in the plan. Overall improvements have been made in every department."
The night's agenda consisted of 14 different items ranging from financial understanding, to department reports to refurbishing the water tower. Business conducted included:
The Nov. 26 special minutes were corrected to reflect the intended salary for new Police Chief Keith Evans. He will receive $30,000 per year plus paid holidays and vacation.
City Clerk Ruth Ann Keith reported the current General Fund balance was $143,524.41.
The City of Leachville and Buffalo Island Central School District shared expenses for installation of new speed bump signs at the school.
Spokespersons from the Water Department, Fire Department and Police Department were on hand to answer financial questions fielded by the council. Aldermen expressed their appreciation for clarification of reports.
"There were more deposits than refunds last year," Alderman Bruce Wilson said, "which tells me more people are staying in town than are moving out."
The council requested Clerk Keith put all transactions in the computer instead of having some hand written.
The council agreed to vote by roll call at meetings effective Feb. 1, 2008.
Event dates for 2008 include: Relay for Life held June 22 at the city park; Watermelon Festival set for July 19; and the Christmas Parade will be Dec. 13, beginning at 6 p.m. at the city park.
Watermelon Festival Chairman Jerrod Price will hold a planning meeting on Jan. 26 at 7 p.m. at city hall.
A special called meeting was set for 6 p.m. Jan. 28 to discuss the 2007 and 2008 budgets, plus employees' payment agreements (hourly vs. salaried).
Eddie Bolar, with Bolar Sanitation, requested a new contract with the city and a proposed increase of $1 per household. He explained the increase would offset increases in amount of waste being picked up. The decision was tabled until the Jan. 28 meeting.
Street Department Supervisor Dickie Coburn expressed the need for a box to put wood remains in after the chipper is used to dispose of limbs. Mayor Spurlock asked Coburn to get estimates on cost and get back to council. Chief Evans agreed to help raise the bed on the equipment and build a box.
Wayne Menley with Miller Newell brought the council up to date with operations of new water tower gauge, controls and recent overflow.
Chief Richie Pace presented the Fire Department report and plans to enforce the department's new attendance policy. Pace requested the city attorney review the new policy implemented on Jan. 1, 2008.
The Fire Department meets every Thursday night from 7-9 p.m. at the station. Regular meetings are the second and fourth Thursday nights of each month. Members must make two meetings per month or contact an officer to show just causes, or desires to make up missed meeting. One month of non-compliance will cause the absentee to lose the quarterly check, and two months will make them eligible for removal from the force. A list of the 19 firemen in attendance at the Jan. 2, 2008 meeting was presented.
Police Chief Evans presented the December 2007 department report, listing four criminal misdemeanor arrests, three traffic contracts, and two criminal warrants. Chief Evans announced the promotion of Mitchell Lasater to full-time officer. Evans also reported that the Crown Victoria police car was back in running order. He also praised his policemen for a job well done.
"We are getting everything done at the city shop, whenever possible," Evans said. "We have fixed everything we can, but we still have some safety issues. We need a cage (screen) in the cars between us and the inmates we carry. The three screens will cost about $499.70, and more for one shield.
The council was in total support to purchase the screens and shield at an estimated cost of $600 total.
Chambers Electric and Robertson Furniture agreed to purchase a new digital camera for police use, at an estimated $259.45.
The council approved necessary improvements to the animal control shelter to bring it into compliance with state regulations. The estimated cost for the needed electrical meter loop and structural updates is listed at $3,000.
The council passed Resolution 2008-1 to award McGuire Iron Inc, a bid of $89,850 to refurbish the old water tower.
Early voting will be held on Jan. 29 in Manila and Feb. 1 and 4 at Leachville.
Council comments concluded the meeting. Alderman Wilson praised the city for doing such a good job in 2007.
"It is a group effort for sure," Wilson said.
"They really care," Mayor Spurlock said. "They are on the right track. When we get these taxes behind us we can begin to gather grants."
"I am also thankful for these two businesses and their donations tonight," Alderman Tommy Stone said.