Manila council hears State of the City report

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Town Crier News Staff

Manila Mayor Clifford Veach gave the State of the City report at the regular February meeting Monday, Feb. 18.

"I thought we had a good year in 2007 financially," Veach said. "I expect the same this year. Long term debts are in excellent shape overall. The $300,000 bonded out on the water project could be paid off by 2010 if we want to. The sewer project scheduled to be paid out through 2025 could be paid off sooner, also. It all depends on the tax revenue every year."

Veach said the city lost a swimming pool referendum last year by a 2-1 ratio by a small number of voters.

"People who voted told us they did not want a swimming pool at that cost," Veach said.

Veach mentioned park improvements, paving, and airport projects in 2007.

"We need to give consideration for some sort of project for the youth," Veach said. "Our ball park is in good shape but everyone does not play ball. I have mixed feelings on a water park. We need to keep working on something for the youth. Teresa Fleeman had a Valentine's Day party at the community center for the community with 25 adults and over 200 young people attending."

Manila Fire Chief Jerry Hitchcock gave an overall 2007 review of the fire department to the council reporting nine house fires, four trailer fires, and two sheds for a total of 15 fires. In addition the department responded to vehicle and grass fires and gave assistance to other fire departments.

Hitchcock said the department currently has 17 firemen.

"We would like to get the number back up to 24," Hitchcock said. "It costs about $1,500 to $2,000 per person just for gear. Act 833 money cannot be used to pay for training or reimburse firemen for travel or meals. Sometimes our firemen have to miss two or three days of work and travel to Jonesboro for training. It is asking a lot of them to go and not be reimbursed."

Hitchcock asked the Mayor and Council to consider budgeting money, if it is available and legal, to assist with expenses in training. He also asked about paying for hepatitis shots needed by firemen.

Hitchcock reported on training, equipment, and fire safety education.

He also mentioned he would like to get smoke detectors at a good price to distribute to the residents.

Mayor Veach said City Attorney Wayne Wagner has been working with the Gambles on the new subdivision next to Heritage Bank on Highway 18. The new subdivision will be named Lions Gate Subdivision. The council voted to make lots 1, 8, 9, and 10 commercial lots and the remaining lots will be residential.

The council voted to raise Manila Police Officer Delbert Carter's salary to $25,000 per year, retroactive to Jan. 1, 2008.

"This was an oversight on my part," Veach said. "This man is making less than other officers."

Police Chief Jackie Hill said it was also an oversight on his part.

"Delbert has never complained about the pay and has done an exceptional job. He is wrapping up his associate degree in criminal justice and has 20 years of experience."

In other business:

*Mayor Veach said he hired Marcella Ford to work verifying all dwellings for the 2010 census. He pointed out the importance of having everyone counted. He said she is finding a lot of places not on the map.

*Mayor Veach said he still has no word on the Heritage Grant application.

*Mayor Veach said the city is still waiting on the new fire station building to be delivered. Hopefully it will be in March.

*He also informed the council of a mistake in the 2008 budget.

"I forgot to budget the new fire department building," Veach said. "Our part will be $150,000. I will have an amendment drawn up to make the change at next month's meeting."

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