Manila Mayor appoints department heads

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Manila Mayor Wayne Wagner recommended the reappointment of department heads at the regular city council meeting held Jan. 16.

"They are all doing a good job and I recommend the reappointment of Jackie Hill for chief of police; Keith Bennett as fire chief; and Henry Ford as water superintendent," Mayor Wagner said.

The council voted 6-0 in favor of the mayor's recommendation.

All council members, Larry "Whiz" Davis, Linda Donovan, Donnie Wagner, Dale Murphy, Jason Baltimore, and Tony Hawkins were present.

Mayor Wagner distributed copies of the proposed budget for 2012. A meeting was set for Monday, Jan. 30, giving the council a couple weeks to review the budget before voting.

"We have had a good year and stayed on budget for the most part," Mayor Wagner said. "We only have one very close area and that is the sanitation department. We may need to look at raising rates to ensure there will be money to take care of any problems that could arise."

He also said they will take care of any amendments in the 2011 budget at the Jan. 30 meeting.

Mayor Wagner said the official 2010 audit had been completed and a report will be available shortly.

"The audit went well," Wagner said.

"The next two years, audits for 2011 and 2012, audits will need to be done by an independent auditor," Wagner said. "This is because I am the mayor and my wife Charolette (State Rep. Charolette Wagner) serves on the Audit Committee. The independent audit will be done at no cost to the city. We can make recommendations of who we want and we will try to get someone from this area. Let me know if you have anyone you would like to recommend."

Mayor Wagner informed the council that David Hopkins and Candie Jones with Landmark Engineering will be in Manila next week. Hopkins is working on the swimming pool/park project and Jones works with the city on any possible grant funding.

Mayor Wagner said the one cent sales tax to fund the swimming pool project will begin being collected on April 1 and continue until the bonds are paid off. There is presently $322,048 in a certified deposit from the 1/8 cent tax passed several years ago.

"The $322,048 will give us a cushion for maintenance/operation, parking lots or where it is needed," Mayor Wagner said.

Councilman Baltimore asked if there was anything in the budget for training employees for the swimming pool.

"Maybe we can pay for the Red Cross training at first," Mayor Wagner said. "I'm taking names of interested people. If we start training in December or maybe before it should give employees time to be trained when the pool opens."

Baltimore said they might need to consider hiring in the summer so they could train while pools are open for the season.

"Once we hire a good manager and get the project going there will not be a lot for us to do," Mayor Wagner said. "I have talked to the engineers and given them your (council members) suggestions on what you liked about the pool in Jacksonville and Park Plaza."

"We just need to keep one end open and keep the diving board and slide apart enough so there will be plenty of room for both," Councilman Hawkins said.

In other business:

*The council voted unanimously to accept the bid of $3,000 to place a large screen projection system at the West Senior Activity Center in the large room of community center. Half of the cost will be funded through the Mississippi County Senior Citizens and half from the city. Mayor Wagner said the city is receiving a grant to help fund the project. Wagner said the senior citizens can have a movie and popcorn day and it can be available for Christmas movies for school children; Power Point presentations for meetings and much more. It can be used during class reunions and other activities held at the community center.

*Mayor Wagner said he is still looking at bonuses/raises for city employees. He said some employees have expressed a preference to raises over bonuses and some like the bonuses. Wagner said it has to be kept on an equal basis.

*Mayor Wagner said he had put a new police vehicle in the 2012 budget.

*Mayor Wagner commended the Manila Police Department on their quick action in solving the break-in of Gary's Food Mart on Dec. 31.

"The officers had it solved within a few hours and all of the cash was recovered," Wagner said. "We are proud of our police officers."

*Wagner informed the council that employee insurance will go up $88 per person per month.

*Mayor Wagner passed out a proposed redistricting map for the city. All council members are in the same ward they were elected in but with the redistricting the population is more equal with the figures showing Ward 1 at 1148; Ward 2 at 1094; and Ward 3 at 1020. The map was prepared by the East Arkansas Planning Division. He told the council members to review and make any suggestions if they see a need for any changes in the proposed redistricting.

*Mayor Wagner reminded everyone there will be a special meeting on Jan. 30. The next regular meeting will be Feb. 20. Meetings begin at 6:30 p.m. and are held in the meeting room of City Hall.

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