Caraway Council OKs pay raises

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Caraway council hired a new police officer, gave across the board raises, and adopted the 2010 budget at the regular city council meeting held Thursday, Dec. 11.

Justin Faulkner was hired as full-time police officer at a salary of $26,000, which includes all holidays. After Faulkner completes his certification in 2010 he will have a salary increase of $1,000.

"I am convinced that hometown boys work best in this position," Riley said. "They are more likely to stay with us."

The council reviewed the 2010 budget.

"I have put $1,200 raises across the board raises in the budget," Riley said.

Terry Couch stood up to leave the room, telling the council, "This usually goes under fringe benefits and not salary, except here (Caraway)."

After Couch exited the room, Mayor Riley explained this was what was discussed at last month's meeting, and no one said anything.

"This has been a good financial year for the city, and I wanted us to give our employees something," Riley said. "This would include $800 raise and $400 Christmas bonus."

"This is the first time that anyone got mad over a raise," Alderman Bo James said. "Last year Terry didn't want a raise as he said it would put him in a higher tax bracket."

"Other employees appreciate anything we can give them," Riley said.

"I've not had any complaints from the rest of our people," Police Chief Pete Hicks said.

The council passed Ordinance 2009-4 approving the 2010 budget, after declaring an emergency and completing it on all three readings.

Craighead County Environmental Officer George Johnson discussed the upcoming flood plane maps.

"The Eastern St. Francis River levee has been decertified," Johnson said. "The levee is sound. Drainage District #9 completed its study work and sent it in on time but it was not processed by the Corps of Engineers and FEMA in time to affect the new maps.

"The new maps will be out on Jan. 15," he said. "We have a 30-day announcement period then a 90-day review period, before the maps are certified. The 1991 maps will abide until the new ones are completed. Hopefully all changes will be made at that time."

Johnson encouraged the council to form a Community Rating System, which is a form of record keeping that allows discounts on flood insurance.

"It involves a lot of paper work but is worth pursuing," Johnson said.

"This is something we can do for our citizens," Mayor Barry Riley said.

Mary Hollis was hired to fill the cleaning position at city hall. This will include two hours per week, eight hours per month, at minimum wage.

Alderman Bo James explained the Fire Department was experiencing hardships financially and plans to send out letters requesting donations to people in the fire district in January, 2010.

"This has proved to be a success in other districts," James said. "We need to have $5,000 worth of repair done to our 1986 fire truck, and foresee more expenses in the future. We are doing fundraisers, but that is not enough."

"The gifts will be tax deductible," said Roger Williams. "I think it is a good idea."

The council discussed taking bids for someone to mow and maintain the city cemetery. The decision was tabled until the January meeting.

Mayor Riley announced the annual Christmas Parade would begin at 6 p.m. on Saturday night, Dec. 12.

"I want to especially thank Sharon Fletcher, Jean Jeffers and Dara Ellenburg for their help in decorating the big yard at city hall and the park downtown," Riley said.

The next regularly scheduled council meeting will be 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 14.

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