Leachville City Council sets interim mayor salary

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Leachville Council discussed interim mayor salary, upgrades on software for body cams, Melody Theater, new ward boundaries and other issues during a lengthy meeting held Monday, Aug. 28.

Following the financial report, Ruth Ann Keith, city clerk/treasurer, asked the council members about the salary for the interim mayor.

Councilwoman Lisa Baldridge has been serving in that capacity since the death of Mayor Ralph Wells. Keith said she has been paid council salary.

“I could not increase it on my own,” Keith said.

Councilwoman Ethel Hetler said she had served three months when Wells was absent and did not receive any extra pay.

Councilman Rodney Robertson gave his opinion the interim mayor should be paid mayoral salary. He also said he thought Helter should receive mayor's pay for the months she served.

The council agreed to pay mayor's pay to Hetler for the time she served and to Baldridge for the time she has served until the election.

“We need an ordinance passed and on the record for any future interim mayors,” Councilwoman Teresa Johnson said.

Keith said she would try to have an ordinance prepared for the next meeting.

The council voted to reappoint Nancy Sills to the Housing Authority.

Councilman Keith Evans suggested having extra police officers on duty for the Harvest Festival.

Mayor Baldridge said all of the police officers will be available and four of the city workers will be working.

“I know it will mean some overtime, but it is only once a year,” Evans said. "We expect a very large crowd."

A long discussion was held on the equipment needed to hook up and store information from the body cams purchased by the city.

Keith said when Itech came to hook up the software and train Chief Joni Isebell it was discovered the city would need to purchase an additional $2,000+ to be able to connect.

“The Itech guy told us to buy more storage; we did and now we have to buy more,” Robertson said.

Keith said no one mentioned the extra equipment needed until they tried to download the information.

The council decided to table the decision until they could talk to Chief Isebell, Jim Bryant with Itech and Watch Guard to get a report and more information.

Street/water Superintendent Robert Ballard talked about infrastructure needs.

He said the sewer plant was built in 1980. He would like to have architect/engineer Wayne Menley address the council to talk about what is needed for the existing wastewater.

"We talked about adding sewer to the new areas, but we need to take care of what we have," Ballard said.

It was decided to have a working meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 7.

Ballard also mentioned the city water rates have not been raised since 2006.

Later in the meeting rates came up again. Clerk Keith said the council was told several years ago rates needed to be raised. She said $40,000 a year was needed to maintain. She said if there was a major problem they would be in trouble.

Robertson asked how Leachville stands on rates in comparison with other towns in the area.

“We are the lowest rate in all of the towns in our area,” Ballard said.

Councilman Evans asked Ballard about the drainage coming across the park into the ditch from the school construction. Evans asked if the ditch would be able to handle the water. He suggested the construction company may need to pipe it further.

Evans expressed his concern about the water from the ditch flooding the cemetery.

“If they pipe drainage to Honey Cypress it will be okay, but if it all goes into the ditch it will not,” Evans said. “I am not trying to be mean to the school but I am just thinking about the drainage problem.”

Evans then asked about the cost of meter boxes and outlets installed for the Harvest Festival.

“If the council thinks the cost should come from the Harvest Festival funds, I want to know,” interim mayor and festival chair Baldridge said.

Following a discussion, Evans tabled any motion until after the festival giving the committee time to see how the finances stand.

The council set fall clean up Friday and Saturday, Sept. 22-23, from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. Dumpsters will be available and give citizens the opportunity to clean up. The dumpsters will be ready to take to the transfer station the next week. There will be no charge to the citizens of Leachville.

Fire Chief Drake Brown updated the council on the department. He said the truck from the Forestry Department is ready for the tank. It has to be completed in the six month time line. The cost for the tank with baffles is $2,650. Brown requested the city pay half and the fire department pay half. The fire department can pay their half from the Act 833 funds.

The council voted unanimously to pay half the cost.

The Melody Theater was a topic of discussion.

Evans asked about the committee members. He said former Mayor Ralph Wells gave one set of names and Moba Lee Miller, chairman, gave another.

“I don't have a problem with the board members but I was told some do not live in the state,” he said. “We need to know who appoints the board members.”

Evans was was informed all the board members do live in the state.

Clerk Keith said when it originated there were board members from all of the towns in the area.

"With the city doing over $300,000 in renovations we need control," Evans said.

“The theater is good for the city but we need to diversify. We need to know who is on the committee, and it should be rented out fairly.”

He said a rock band should get the same consideration as a gospel group.

A long discussion was held about police certification information.

Councilman Evans asked about officer certification information.

“We requested it last month,” he said.

Evans said information from resumes should be verified.

Clerk Keith said she would have to check on the Freedom of Information regulations.

"We have had a number of chiefs in the last seven years. I am not saying each one of us need the information but it should be verified by the chief or the clerk,” Evans said.

Keith said Chief Isebell is working on copies of certifications.

The council reviewed maps for boundaries of redistricting voting wards.

It was decided to table the redistricting decision until the next meeting giving council members time to study the alternatives.

Michael Webster addressed the council talking about expanding his business and a new business he will be opening. He purchased property from Leachville Industries five years ago with plans to build mini storage on the back with a small office in the front. He said his wife's business moved into the small office building at the front of the property. The business has outgrown the small building and will be moving to the larger building under construction, going from 360 square feet to 1,080 square feet.

Webster will be turning the smaller building into a deli. He plans to offer 30 meats and cheeses, be open six days a week and offer sandwiches or meats by the pound.

In other business:

*Clerk Keith said the grant application for a pavilion at the park did not get in before the deadline. She said they will have it ready to submit in March.

*The council briefly discussed a sales tax. Clerk Keith said Leachville is the only town around without one. “We have a lot of needs,” she said. She went on to say a sales tax has to be voted on by the citizens.

*Baldridge asked all of the council who could to be on stage at 6:30 p.m. during the Harvest Festival Saturday.

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