Caraway Council accepts rate increase

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Town Crier News Staff

Caraway Councilmen reviewed garbage contract, opened bids on sale of two automobiles and made plans for a new main street beautification project during the regular business session Thursday, March 13.

Tom Martin, Delta Environmental municipal sales manager, reviewed the newly proposed contract with the city, which includes a 9.3 percent rate increase. The increase includes a 4.3 percent CPI (Consumer Price Index) hike, which is similar to an increase in the cost of living. The other five percent additive is due to the cost of fuel.

Mayor Barry Riley and the six councilmen present evaluated commercial and residential garbage pick-up complaints and upcoming needs for improvements.

"Caraway is still getting the cheapest rates in Eastern Arkansas, even with the increase," Martin said. "We still want to do our job right and keep the rates low. We have had a good working relationship with Caraway and want that to continue."

After hearing recent complaints about delays or omissions of pick-ups, Martin gave the aldermen his personal cell phone number for future reference.

"Call me if the drivers do not do the job right, and it will be taken care of," Martin said. "We are holding the drivers responsible for what they have been hired to do. Service is all we have to offer, and we want to do it right."

Riley requested a Clean Sweep special pick-up and Martin agreed to check Delta's calendar and get back with a collection date.

Meeting guest Jerry Murphy reminded Martin that former Delta representative Gary Beason told the city there would be no increase in garbage cost, other than fuel, before the three year contract was up. The anniversary date for the current contract is April 12, 2009.

Martin had no knowledge of any oral contract made by Beason, but there is nothing reflected in the written contract.

"We are not asking for anything outrageous in our request for the CPI increase," Martin said. "The cost just goes up and we can't help that. Our people still have to be paid, and we have already issued them raises for 2008."

After a lengthy discussion, alderman Brent Powell moved to accept the new contract with Delta, which included 9.3 percent increase.

"I don't see any way around it," Powell said. "Other garbage companies charge $14 to $15 a month for the same services."

The motion passed 4-2 with aldermen Johnny Boatman and Joe James casting the opposing votes.

"We just have a limited amount of companies to deal with on this," said Terry Couch, water superintendent. "Delta does a good job at a good price."

Mayor Riley opened bids on the two vehicles advertised for sale. Only one bid was received on the 1999 Mercury Marquis car. Lester Crow made the bid for $777.77. The council refused the bid. Four bids were received on the 1978 milk truck. They included Lester Crow for $127.77; Irvin Enterprises for $205; Randy Couch for $250; and Jimmy Rodgers for $178. The council voted unanimously to award the bid to Randy Couch.

Mayor Riley passed out a proposed layout for the new Main Street Beautification Project, to include approval for GIF grant application.

Beautification Chairman Halley Vaughn reviewed the outline of the project, using a sketch compiled by Lawrence Wayne Fletcher. The project will include planters and flower boxes, central water fountain, benches, and picnic tables. Memory bricks may be added in the future.

"This will be a citizens park, for the whole town to enjoy," Vaughn said.

"We are asking for a $34,000 grant to cover expenses," Mayor Riley said. "We will have to dig a well for the fountain, and underground sprinklers will be needed for the sod. This will beautify downtown, and will give people a place to gather."

The council approved Resolution 2008-4 for the downtown project and permission to apply for a $34,000 state grant.

Riley announced the Heritage Grant for fire department improvements had been turned down.

"We win some and lose some," Riley said. "We have to just keep trying. We have been fortunate in the past in receiving help from grants. It takes a lot of work to apply but it is worth the effort."

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