Water employee bonus put on hold

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Caraway City Council met Thursday, Oct. 13, and discussed employee bonuses for education, and placement of city tax on the November ballot.

The council discussed at length a request by Water Superintendent Terry Couch for a $500 bonus to go to Water Department employee Johnny Boatman, for having passed a level of his wastewater accreditation.

"The city has been doing this for the past 14 years," Couch said. "Johnny is an exceptional worker. He took a 33 percent cut to come to work for us. It is to your advantage for him to learn all this and go to the top level in his training."

"Are you comfortable taking this money out of the Water and Sewer account?" Councilman Mitchell Tipton said. "How long until he will be fully certified?"

"Yes I am," Couch said. "It takes several years as there are six more levels of training."

"Is the money there for it?" Councilman Mark Bell said.

"Yes," Couch said.

"Johnny is a good worker," Alderman Marvin Browning said. "He used to work for me."

"I am concerned about this causing a conflict between the Police Department and Water Department, as the policemen get $1,000 after they are fully certified," Mayor Barry Riley said.

"Johnny (Boatman) has only been here four months and you are asking for a bonus," Alderman Bo James said. "I am against it. It has been thrown in our faces about the fact we are in a financial bind and talk about layoffs. You can see what side of the table we are on, with us talking sales tax. People don't forget this."

"If he can't make a living here, he might go somewhere else," Couch said. "I told him about the bonus when he hired in. I want to train him to do my job in case health or something else should take me out unexpectedly."

"Are you saying you will quit if he doesn't get the bonus?" Riley said.

"No there are no threats in this," Couch said.

"We work 56 hour weeks," Police Chief Pete Hicks said.

"We work 160 hours a week as we are always on call," Couch said.

"Don't start this or you all can go home," Riley said.

"We are not where the General Fund is," Couch said. "We are OK. Let's specify who is in trouble."

"The General Fun is also affected by the Water Department," Riley said. "We pay comp time on weekends. We are cutting back wherever we can, at all levels."

No action was taken by the council to pay the $500 bonus as requested.

Riley announced that the work to place the citywide sales tax on the Nov. 13 ballot has been completed. If the sales tax passes, benefits will be derived for collections starting in 2012.

Resolution 2011-2 was passed to set 1.8 mills for the city's personal property tax rate. This is the same as last year.

The council passed Resolution 2011-3 approving the application for a 100 percent GIF Enhancement grant to purchase ballpark bleachers, estimated to cost $58,000.

"The grant would allow us to purchase five sets of bleachers holding 120 people," Mayor Riley said. "We can't go wrong with a 100 percent grant and have nothing to lose but our time in filling it out."

The council agreed to remove the reserve bid from the city dump truck and sell it for scrap metal.

Mayor Riley read a letter of retirement and resignation from maintenance employee Mary Hollis. No plans were made to fill that position.

Mayor Riley encouraged councilmen to help secure signatures on a petition being circulated by Sheffield Nelson to raise 70,000 signatures to raise turnback money requirement from natural gas companies.

Basler Electric has removed 12 feet of dirt from their property to meet environmental requirements. The city will accept the property as a gift when work is completed.

Riverside Student Council members visited the council meeting as part of their leadership program.

The next regularly scheduled council meeting will be at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 10, at city hall.

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