Leachville meter readings questioned

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Leachville City Council discussed concerns with accurate meter readings, mandated state retirement withholding and the upcoming Watermelon Festival at the city council meeting held Monday, July 13.

The council discussed the variations of water meter readings.

"My water bill was $400 this month and I went out and read my meter," Alderman Tommy Stone said. "I compared it with the reading from last month and the meter on my bill showed that my reading was less than it was last month. I can't help but question if my meter is being read. I thought the new meter readers are supposed to send up a red flag if the reading is out of line."

"My water meter went from usage of 1,200 one month to 8,000 the next," said Councilman Johnny Hawkins. "I had to dig my meter out of the ground to read it."

"I started reading my own meter because my meter got missed or estimated, and when it was actually read it was wrong," said Councilman Bruce Wilson. "They have said it was a leak or something, but it is not leaking 10,000 gallons."

"To make sure they are reading the meters, make them go out and reread them when there is a complaint, and put a note on the door," said Councilman Syrena Duffel.

"We have two people alternating the reading of the meters now," said Mayor Sheila Spurlock. "The golf cart needs new batteries. In August 2007 you voted to purchase new ones, but they were never purchased. We need to do that now."

Mayor Spurlock agreed to check on meter reading and the council voted to purchase new batteries for the golf cart for $740.

Police Chief Keith Evans discussed the increase in payroll deduction of full-time employees for state retirement. Officers are being asked to pay 2.5 percent of their salaries toward retirement.

"When we hired in the payment of retirement was a part of our salary package," Evans said. "Now we have to pay it."

"This is mandated by the state," City Clerk Ruth Ann Keith said. "We received notification in May."

"They were hired in at a certain wage and this causes them to have a decrease in their salary," Spurlock said. "We need to absorb this 2.5 percent fee."

The council was in agreement to pay the additional 2.5 percent retirement withholding but needs more time to decide on a plan that will work best.

Paula Bowen reported on plans for the Watermelon Festival. An antique car show and rock wall for climbing will be set up at the Adams Estate. A downtown dunking booth will be in place on main street and a raffle of a Benelli shotgun. A three-man golf tournament will be sponsored by Myrna Adams. Booths can be reserved from Third Street to Dr. Rodman Street during the festival.

"We will be purchasing Watermelon Festival tee shirts in advance and need and advancement from the city for expenses," Bowen said. "They are grey shirts with black and red print. The cost for 880 shirts is $2,000. We will reimburse the city after the festival."

The council voted to purchase the festival shirts.

A resignation was received from Eddie Bolar, due to health issues. He has been employed for 13 years and 8 months.

Fire Chief Richie Austin reported 14 medical calls in June and three fires attended. The new slate of 2009 officers include Austin as Chief, Mark Johnson, Assistant Chief, Teresa Johnson, Secretary and Treasurer, Willis Lambert, Chaplain, and other officers Eddie Bolar, Steve Baldridge and Darrin McFall

Marilyn Looney gave an update on the Buffalo Island Veterans Memorial.

The city will advertise and take bids on the 1982 F-150 red pick up truck used by the Street Department, and another Water Department truck.

Two city animal controllers were approved to attend a five-day workshop in Springdale in September, at an estimated cost of $2,000.

Mayor Spurlock thanked the Cave Dwellers for the outstanding fireworks display at the park during the 4th of July.

"We want to thank all the donors who made the event possible," Teresa Johnson said.

Serena Duffel and Ruth Ann Keith have been chosen to serve on the Municipal League Advisory Council this year.

Several citizens complained about the City Ordinance Notice that they received listing areas of noncompliance. After a short discussion the council agreed to clarify the wording on the notice to include all properties (residential and business) and to circle the areas that are out of compliance when sending out the notice.

The next regularly scheduled council meeting will be 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 10, at city hall.

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