Monette water rates to be evaluated

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Monette City Council met on Monday, Feb. 22, and discussed water and sewer rates, banning sale of pseudoephedrine products, appointment of two new councilmen, and construction at the ballpark.

Tim Carey, with Arkansas Rural Water Association, addressed the council on existing water and sewer rates on how to work on rates to become solvent.

"There are a lot of things that have to be done before you are where you want to be with this situation," Carey said. "The rates and monthly income to pay for cost must be regulated or that is suicide. You have to build a fund, pay bills with no problems, plan for potential breakdowns and look at renovation or replacement.

"Each department should float themselves," Carey said." You need to agree on a rate that would put you in the black economically. First you become solvent then you look at where you are headed. My job is to watch your back, and then we will watch your system.

"You have to work on your rates. That decision is up to you to control. We can look deeper into that at your next meeting."

The council agreed to evaluate their water and sewer systems and rates and meet again on to discuss possibilities.

"We need to call a special meeting and allow ourselves time to discuss this thoroughly," City councilman Tom Carroll said.

"This may end up costing us $1 to $1.5 million," Alderman Perry Wood said.

Wood reviewed the deficit spending report from last month's council meeting which listed the Water Department solvent but that the Sewer Department with more expenses in the past four years than income. Sewer Department expenses were $18,500 more than the income in 2009 alone.

"We need our city engineers here to give us some ideas," Alderman Bob Blankenship said. "We need it down in black and white."

"We need our new councilmen on board, so they will know what is being done and why," Mayor Chub Qualls said.

The council went into executive session to discuss the appointment of two new aldermen to fill the vacancies in Ward 2 left by the resignations of Martha Jane Hout and Jamie Strickland.

After reconvening the council selected Dick Pace to fill the position 1 seat, in Ward 2, and Billy Watson for position 2.

Police Chief addressed a recommendation by a local druggist to ban the sale of cold and allergy medicines containing pseudoephedrine.

"There has been a total of 168 containers of this medicine purchased by Monette related customers in the last 22 days," Carmichael said. "Pseudoephedrine is the key ingredient in the manufacturing of crystal meth."

Reports showed that 86 boxes were sold by a Monette pharmacist, 58 sold in Monette to out of town people, and 28 sold to Monette residents. Eight people bought 21 boxes, 61 boxes were purchased out of town by 32 Monette residents, and four Monette citizens have bought six boxes in town and seven boxes out of town.

"One lady purchased 15 boxes," Carmichael said. "This is quite a consideration. The pharmacist wants us to pass an ordinance banning the sale."

After a brief discussion the council unanimously agreed to not pass an ordinance, and the situation would be up to the pharmacist to police the sale.

"Pharmacists want us to make that decision for them," Blankenship said. "I think we should let them take care of it themselves."

"Pharmacists are working now to get a law passed on their own making it necessary to have a prescription to purchase pseudoephedrine products," Carmichael said. "If cities ban together to do this it might help, but as a city on its own it would be hard to accomplish anything. They would just go to the next town."

The council took no action.

The council discussed grant funding to build bathrooms at the city ballpark complex.

Qualls estimated construction for the new concession stand and two bathrooms would cost $100,000.

The feasibility of laying foundation for the total project but only finishing the bathrooms this year.

"To get money back from the grant, first we have to spend it," Qualls said.

"We need to know what money we have in hand, what we can borrow, and let it out for bids," Blankenship said. "We need to get started on this."

Carmichael reported on the Monette Youth Association brick fundraiser.

"It has taken us three years to sell 27 bricks," Carmichael said.

The council called a special meeting for 5:30 p.m. Monday, March 1, at city hall to discuss construction at the ballpark and swear in new councilmen.

Qualls reported the city needs to sell a police car and pick-up truck and buy a better truck.

Plans are to evaluate the vehicles to sell and advertise them.

The Dollar General store is due to open Friday with a ribbon cutting service held at a later date. Twenty employees have been hired to stock and run the new business.

The council voted 3-0 to donate $250 to the DARE program. Alderman Perry Wood abstained from voting.

Slowing traffic down on main street was discussed but no changes were made. Chief Carmichael agreed to work on it.

The next regularly scheduled council meeting will be 7 p.m. Monday, March 22, at city hall.

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