Caraway Council accepts budget, approves Park Commisioners

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Caraway Mayor Barry Riley proposed Ordinance 2013-1 to revise the 2012 budget at the city council meeting held Thursday, Jan. 10. Rules were suspended and the council placed the reading on the third and final reading. After a brief discussion the council passed the ordinance.

Mayor Riley presented Ordinance 2013-2 to approve the 2013 city budget.

"We added $6,500 for expenses to Entergy for adding electricity to the Rodeo Arena," Riley said. "The city sales tax receipts will be a separate line item also."

Alderman Bo James questioned $3,000 in expenses for the Mayor to attend Municipal League meetings, and a trip to Washington, D.C., with other Craighead County representatives.

"I don't think we need to be making trips, when we are cutting money everywhere else," James said.

"If we are going to continue to get grants we need to be at meetings to represent the city," Riley said. "Grants are getting harder and harder to come by."

"I don't think Washington, D.C., helps as much as they think it does," James said. "We don't have money for trips when we are shuffling budgets and facing cutbacks. We need to watch our money."

"Many of these trips are essential for us as a city," Riley said.

"What did we get out of the last trip to D.C.?" James said.

"We ended up getting a new ambulance and a federal grant for a generator," Riley said. "Being there to represent the city is important. It has been a great help to us so far."

"We don't want to lose something that is essential," Alderman Mark Bell said. "We may need to look at this another time. You (Mayor) have done a good job on these grants, but like Bo (James) said, we are tight right now."

"New grant money will be received from the sales tax coming out at these meetings, and we need to be there to find out about them," Riley said.

"We don't want to say don't go if it is essential," Bell said.

With further discussion, the council made several adjustments. Traveling expenses allotment was reduced to $1,500, and $1,300 was added to Fish Pond pump expenses.

James made inquiries concerning Police Department expenses for phones and replacement insurance on them.

"Two cell phones run about $2,500 per year, with $1,000 insurance to replace them," Riley said. "They have one year left on their two-year contract."

"We have tried several brands and encountered trouble with missed calls, before we started using the Verizon smart phones," Police Chief Pete Hicks said.

"The Verizon phone expenses run $207 a month and Century Tel $107," City Treasurer Rick Stephens said.

"If the insurance for repairs is $1,000 a year, we could just use that to replace them when needed," Bell said.

Reviewing equipment repairs and expenses, Water Superintendent Terry Couch suggested a possible split between the Water and the Street Department might be feasible.

"Will the Street Department be in the hole again next year?" James asked.

"No," Riley said. "They have $125,000 with expenditures of $89,000, which is almost $40,000 surplus."

The council suspended the rules and placed Ordinance 2013-2 on the third and final reading, and passed the 2013 budget with changes.

Mayor Riley thanked the committee working on the 2013 budget for their hard work in preparing it.

Fire Chief Scotty Browning proposed improvements, upgrades and repairs for the fire station, using Act 813 money.

"We need improvements and repairs to our lighting system," Browning said. "It is also becoming a security problem with no outside lighting. The overhead doors need adjustment, locks, and help from being so hard to open and shut. A new electric door might be the thing to get in the future, and an 11' wide door is estimated to cost $1,200. We would have to do the framework on the building from our current 12' opening. There are holes in the ceiling at the station also, and we have leaks in the office. Boards are swayed and need to be at least turned. A compressor is also needed for the truck air brakes.

"One pressing need is for SCBA tanks," Browning said. "The last test we had was in 2003. It will cost about $550 to do all the tanks.

"We have $25,000 in the Act 813 account," he said. "I don't want to deplete our fund, but most of this can be done for a little over $2,000. The funds allow use to make improvements or repairs on the station."

"I want our Fire Department to work good," Alderman Mitchell Tipton said.

The council appropriated $4,500 to work on lights, SCBA tanks, compressor, and new door, and come back and work on leak and ceiling repairs after more information can be obtained. The vote was 5-0 with Bo James abstaining from voting, citing conflict of interest from being a fireman.

Riley agreed to check on roof repair and leaking.

The council accepted the resignation of Tim Dawson from the Parks Commission. Billy Pendergrass was agreed to return to the Commission and serve as president. Pendergrass had resigned last month.

Mayor Riley reported a Boston Butt fundraiser is planned for March 22 to raise money for Fourth of July fireworks.

"Whoever has the Fourth of July entertainment usually pays for the fireworks," Riley said. "The city should get a commission from proceeds if they decide to have a Demolition Derby."

"I would like to see the Park Commission give us at least a quarterly update," Tipton said.

Mayor Riley announced the city Easter Egg Hunt for March 3 and Fishing Derby for May 3.

The next regularly scheduled council meeting will be 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 14, at at city hall.

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