Caraway Mayor Barry Riley proposed $6,000 be transferred from the City Sales Tax Revenue Account to the Street Department to offset short term needs in that department when the city council met Thursday, Dec. 13. Riley listed payments of $865 to the county for its overpayment of turn back money to the city as one of the problematic department expenditures. He reported monthly projected expenses for the Street Department (for salaries, etc.) exceed the amount in the fund.
"I am against transferring the sales tax money, unless we have a project," said Alderman Bo James.
"Where will it come from then?" Riley asked. "Do you want us to lay people off because we can't pay them?"
"We discussed this last month," James said. "I'm not for giving money that isn't there."
The council met in special session on Nov. 19 and voted 5-1 to approve $400 bonus checks for all city employees. Revenue from the sales of city materials was used to supplement cost of Street Department bonuses. James cast the dissenting vote at that meeting.
"The people in the city are paying the sales tax to help the city," James said. "I don't think the $800 plus payment is putting us in this crunch. I didn't vote against the bonuses because employees didn't need it, but because we didn't have the money."
"I can't see any other place we can get the money," Alderman Mark Bell said.
Mayor Riley suggested one alternative was to pay the salary of Gary Jeffers of Parks and Recreation (a Street Department expenditure), out of the General Fund for about four months until the mowing season begins.
"County turn back money should be building back up soon," said Alderman John Boatman.
"It is always hard to project what money is coming in," Riley said. "We need to buy some time until next year, when revenue picks up."
"I think that is a good idea for four months," Alderman Marvin Browning said.
"That is our only option if we don't use sales tax," Bell said.
"That seems to be our best bet right now" Riley said.
Browning moved for a one time transfer of $3,000 from General Fund to the Street Department, and to move the payment of Gary Jeffer's salary over to the General Fund for four months. This would allow the needed $6,000 for the Street Department. The council approved unanimously.
Mayor Riley agreed to make changes to the 2013 proposed budget and bring back to the council at the January meeting. He also listed the inclusion of a $6,500 line item to Entergy for electricity at the rodeo arena and the securing of a $1,500 grant for adding chat in the spring.
The council passed 4-1 Ordinance 2012-6 on the third reading. The ordinance defines garbage pick-up regulations and charges for violation. James cast the dissenting vote.
The council declared an emergency and passed Arkansas Energy Code Ordinance 2012-7 on the third reading. The ordinance provides minimum standards for the design of new buildings and structures, and additions designed for human occupancy.
The council passed Resolution 2012-8, which is a Statutory Amendment authorizing improvements in information dealing with collection of taxes, and itemized listings of such.
Mayor Riley announced the resignation of Billy Pendergrass from the Park Commission. The council accepted the resignation. The committee will meet soon and recommend a new commissioner to replace Pendergrass.
Riley reported work completed on the grant application for the Caraway Senior Center.
"An architect came to inspect the building in order for us to complete requirements for the application," Riley said. "The application is due tomorrow."
Riley asked the council to consider potential need to hire another part-time police officer.
"Police Chief Hicks is losing vacation every year, because they don't have enough officers to fill in," Riley said. "The officers are putting in 84 hours a week. We have budgeted $4,600 for part-time workers."
"The last two years officers have lost vacation days," Hicks said. "If a policeman takes off there still has to be coverage, which means the 84 hour weeks."
The council agreed to consider solutions and address next month.
The council discussed ownership of lights at the rodeo arena and potential sale of items. Mayor Riley agreed to check with Merett Emery for more information.
Fire Chief Scotty Browning reported new improvements made to the fire station bathroom facilities.
"I want to thank the Lion's Club for the excellent Christmas parade they provided," Riley said. "This was something the whole town could be proud of."
The next regularly scheduled council meeting will be at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 10, at city hall.