Caraway City Council met Thursday, Nov. 8, and passed four resolutions, with the passage the garbage pick up ordinance on the second reading.
Mayor Barry Riley read four new resolutions for consideration by the council. These included: Resolution 2012-4, setting the real and personal property rates for county taxes at 1.8 mills; Resolution 2012-5, to allow a $55,000 90/10 Rural Community Block Grant application approval for renovation of the Caraway Community Building; Resolution 2012-6, which prohibits excessive force by law enforcement officers during a non-violent civil rights demonstration; and Resolution 2012-7, an anti-displacement policy. All four resolutions were passed unanimously.
Ordinance 2012-6, setting times of garbage collection, passed 5-1, on the second reading. Alderman Bo James cast the opposing vote.
Mayor Riley reported Police Chief Pete Hicks made purchases with the $4,200 JAG Grant, which included three metal detectors, three pairs of night vision goggles, a siren system, a radio and a computer with capabilities to handle court system dockets.
Mayor Riley reviewed the 2011 Water Department audit by the CPA firm of Despain and Short. The review was approved by the council.
"Our revenue was down this year due to loss of customers," Riley said. "This makes for a tight 2012 budget, and an even tighter 2013 budget. We have worked it out before and can do it again."
Riley presented the projected 2013 budget totaling $342,150.
"I recommend we give our employees a Christmas bonus of $500 each this year, as they certainly deserve it," Riley said. "This would be a way of us showing we appreciate them. The bonuses need to be issued by Nov. 16, in time for them to do some Christmas shopping. We are unsure about raises for next year, but they deserve that also, if we can swing it.
"We have nine employees and it has been two years since they have had a raise," Riley said. "I am working on something now, to try to get more money for the city, but can't divulge the sources until I get confirmation on the plan. We have cut everything at this time we can cut except labor."
"If we give them bonuses there would be no money left in the Street Department budget for raises next year," Alderman James said. "I don't want us to price someone out of a job next year. We can't afford it in the Street Department, and I'm not going to vote for a bonus if it would affect them not getting a raise."
James asked several employees in the audience if they had rather have bonuses or raises, and they expressed preferences to raises, in the event they were forced to choose. Still employees expressed the desire to have bonuses rather than nothing at all.
"All the departments have concerns and problems to deal with," Terry Couch said. "Normally water here is four feet down, and now it is at 12 feet. When the water comes back we have a lot of sewer problems to deal with. We are still setting on a catastrophe. Still we have to take care of our employees, as we have some great ones. I had rather you give my assistant a bonus and raise than for you to give me one, at this time, as he is a great help to me and does an excellent job."
Police Chief Pete Hicks expressed his agreement with Couch, in deferring any bonus or raise to other staff members instead of himself.
Councilman Mitchell Tipton suggested the additional equipment viewed for sale be used to add to the Street Department budget.
The council did not act on the Mayor's recommendation for Christmas bonuses.
"You need to look at the proposed budget this month, and then we can get back together on any changes," Riley said. "I don't know if the budget, as it now stands, can handle raises, but I sure want to do it if we can figure out a way."
The Caraway Christmas Parade will be held Saturday, Dec. 1, beginning at 6 p.m. Line up will begin at 5 p.m.
"Over the weekend, I received calls from several councilmen wanting to re-position themselves on the Christmas bonus phase of our meeting on the 8th," Riley said. "So I have called a special council meeting to discuss bonuses for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 13."