Monette Council OKs pay increases
The Monette city council discussed past action taken on raises, accepted a councilman's resignation, reviewed use of community building, and heard another presentation on mobile read water meters at the regular meeting held Monday, June 20.
A special council meeting was held June 2 to discuss employee salaries. Meeting minutes revealed a council decision to pay policemen time and a half per 12-hour shift for any shift worked over 56 hours, effective immediately. One-time bonuses of 5 percent were given across the board, based on annual salary but for six months, except for the one part-time employee who will receive 2.5 percent. The dogcatcher will continue to be paid $91.76 per week, but nothing per dog, as in the past.
The council approved a written resignation from Alderman Billy Watson, which stated he and his family would be moving to Missouri to be close to family. Names of parties interested in the Ward #2 position will be taken for 30 days with a decision made at the next council meeting on July 18.
Monette Housing Authority board member Jerry Reed addressed the inquiry about the current public rental policy of the community building.
"The current policy was a joint decision between the city and the Housing Authority to not rent the building out to the public, due to complications in the past, and the fact there is so much expensive equipment in the building," Reed said. "If the policy is changed, we recommend that a chaperone be paid to stay at the facility while the building is in use. The chaperone would have the key and would be instructed to not let it out of his hands. There would be a need for a deposit and rental, with rental being returned after usage. All repairs and clean-up would be taken out of rental money."
"This building needs to serve the community," Mayor Chub Qualls said. "Right now only 15-20 people benefit from its use."
"I think we should leave it like it is," Alderman Bob Blankenship said.
"I think we should look long and hard on this before making changes," Alderman Tom Carroll said.
The council agreed to table a decision until they can meet with the MHA during a regular board meeting to discuss potential changes.
Mike Henard, with Henard Utility Products, Inc. of Searcy, discussed the potential use of Badger Meters and mobile reading system.
"Badger has been in business since 1905 and is the #1 residential meter in the nation," Henard said. "Radio read meters have become popular since 2004, as they can be read quickly and efficiently from a vehicle. The Badger Orion is the best meter in its class, and this model has been in existence since 1982. We have 27 cities using our systems in Arkansas."
"We are in the accuracy business," he said. "Our meters are larger, have a bigger throat, accuracy higher, can retro-fit to your old meters, makes the water pressure better and has a great warranty. For $25,000 we will provide the laptop, software, 70 meters and two days of training. The new meters are $190 each and $160 if you attach the radio read to your existing meter. We can test your meters, get a discount on risers and boxes, and even get you financing if you need it."
The council agreed to discuss the modernization of their meter system further before making a final decision. A special meeting will be called if needed before the regularly scheduled council meeting.
An update on weather sirens was given. Two new sirens were listed at $7,900, with installation and radio coding. Bay Electric will be contacted about the purchase of sirens.
The Monette Youth Association report and council comments listed needs for winterproofing, locking vehicle gate access and concession stand, taking flags down and straighting flagpole, and need to repair fence.
The city animal ordinance prohibiting Pit Bulls will be enforced, per compliance advice received from Arkansas Municipal League authorities.
No dogs or cats are allowed in the city's storm shelter. The rules are posted outside the shelter and will continue to be enforced.
Mayor Qualls announced that more part-time help had been hired to deal with the recent storm clean up.
Alderman Joyce Read gave a review of new laws enacted in 2011 from reports handed out at the Arkansas Municipal League meeting.
Alderman Perry Wood voiced concerns that sanitation rates be raised to meet needs for providing service.
"We are just barley limping along," Wood said. "I am concerned about the transfer station closing and the need to carry trash to Harrisburg. When our truck wears out we are out of business."
"I think the truck is good for a while," Alderman Blankenship said. "The men take good care of it."
"I don't think it is going to be as bad as you think," Alderman Carroll said.
"We need to keep a close eye on this for a couple of months and see how it is going," Qualls said. "We are just going to have to watch things all around."
"We also need to get the lift station generator up and running in case of emergency," Blankenship said.
The next regularly scheduled council meeting will be at 7 p.m. Monday, July 18, at city hall.