Leachville Council hears State of the City

Tuesday, February 27, 2018
Wayne Menley, with Miller-Newell, discussed sewer expansion and treatment plant improvements at the Leachville City Council meeting. (Town Crier photo/Revis Blaylock)

Leachville Council members heard the State of the City address from Mayor Rodney Robertson, made plans to move forward with a sewer expansion and waste treatment plant, hired a full time police officer and conducted other business at the Monday, Feb. 19, meeting.

Wayne Menley with Miller-Newell Engineers updated the council on estimated cost and process of extending sewer to the annexed area along Highway 119 to Highway 18 and the needed improvements on the existing plant. He informed the council again, the city does not qualify for a grant because of their low sewer charges. The work would have to be done through a 100 percent loan. He said presently the interest rate is 2.75 percent but will go up after March.

The total cost of the total project was estimated $1,633,000. He said LIDC (Leachville Industrial Development Commission) has committed to $150,000.

Based on the number of residents, Menley discussed several options for rate schedules.

“Based on the information we have the sewer rates will need to be at least $25 or $26 to do what needs to be done,” Menley said.

He went on to discuss the need to have the reserve amount for future maintenance.

“The sewer rate does not have to be passed to get the process started,” he said.

A bond hearing will need to be held in the near future.

Councilmen Paul Wildy and Teresa Johnson both expressed the opinion the plant improvements have to be done and it is a must for the city.

Wildy asked Menley what is the city's next step.

Menley said a letter of conditions will be sent to the city for them to review. He went on to say the water and sewer will need to stand alone.

Mayor Robertson said he wanted to make sure the city can afford it before any final decision is made.

Wildy made a motion to start the process which passed unanimously.

Mayor Robertson gave his State of the City address.

“This is my first time to be standing before you to report on the state of our great city,” he said. “To reflect on our challenges and opportunities and to share our progress.

“When I think about our future, I think about those who came before us. We may be a small city, but we are rich in history. We have always been home to young business people and we are a city that encourages new business and education and growth. Although there are times when we have fallen short, today we are alive and well and thriving as a small community. It is no wonder there is a rising pride in our city. I am filled with more hope and optimism for our future than ever before. We are writing that chapter together. The future we want and the economy that lifts everyone up is now in our sights and we are so close to achieving this goal.”

Mayor Robertson went on to talk about the accomplishments of the city in 2017 including new Christmas lights, ball park renovation and in use, Harvest Festival which drew a large crowd and was very successful, city clean up, second fire station, new elementary school, new apartments and more.

“We have a lot to be proud of and we are turning the page and starting a new chapter in our city history,” he said.

He said the city is applying for several grants to help with streets, police and fire protection and more activities for children.

“We are proud of our city employees, police department, fire department and first responders and look forward to working with them all in the upcoming year,” Mayor Robertson said. “We are looking forward to the new and improved Melody Theater with many new acts to come.

"Leachville has always succeeded by holding true to our values. Everyone is welcome and anyone can make it here. Every day I see that reflected in our city. That is why I am optimistic and together we can create more opportunities and we can build an economy that lifts every family.”

Ruth Ann Keith, city clerk/treasurer, gave the financial report with balances of: General Fund, $120,452.86; Street Fund, $85,702.10; Melody Theater Fund, $9,194.74.; Melody Theater Refurbish Balance $21,845; Employee Savings, $8,399.17; Fire Protection Fund, $13,806.94; Act 833 Fund, $13,376.71; Court Automation Fund, $6,063.79. Total funds available in the Water and Sewer Department, $67,770.04.

Certificates of Deposit include Street Fund, $5,667.24; Cemetery Fund, $5,337.62; Fire Protection Fund, $10,365.07; Leachville Volunteer Fire Department Discretionary Fund, $1,858.67; Leachville Festival Fund, $9,185.17.

Police Chief Joni Isebell requested hiring Mike Shively as full time officer. Following an executive session, the council voted unanimously to hire Shively with a six month probation period.

Brad Hitchcock who has been working part time for the Leachville Police Department recently resigned. He will be attending the Arkansas State Police Recruit training.

He addressed the council expressing his appreciation for the opportunity to serve the community of Leachville.

Water and sewer superintendent Robert Ballard gave a report on cost estimates for repairs of a back hoe. The council agreed with Ballard's suggestion to not spend that much money on equipment that old. It was decided to have the equipment brought back.

Ballard said the city can continue to use it and maybe consider trading it in later for a newer model.

Ballard also asked the council if city workers need to continue to pick up large items.

The fees have gone up to $600 and with the extra we are having to dump twice a week costing the city $1,200.

Council said the trash truck should only pick up bagged, household trash. Citizens can bring items to the site located on Fourth Street and pay a fee.

The council then approved Ballard's request for tires for pick-up.

Fire Chief Drake Brown told the council he is still in the process of writing a grant for radios. He announced two new members of the fire department, Forrest Roberson and Julius Helms.

In other business:

*The council voted to allow students to use the Melody Theater for a drama production.

*The council discussed implementing privilege licenses for businesses in the city. No action was taken and it was decided the mayor and treasurer will put together a proposal for the next meeting.

*Councilman Richie Pace brought up the need for city workers to have reflective vests. They sometimes start work before daylight. The council agreed to allow Mayor Robertson and Robert Ballard to take care of the purchase of reflective vests.

*The city passed a resolution to apply for an advertising grant for the Harvest Festival which will be held Saturday, Sept. 1. Councilman Lisa Baldridge said there is a need for volunteers. “It is a big commitment and a lot of work.”

*Saturday, May 19, will be the third annual Make Leachville Cemetery Beautiful Day. Baldridge asked for volunteers.

*Drake Brown with the ballpark committee said the program has five teams signed up, two tee-ball teams, a 5-6 year old team and a 7-8 year old team. “We have about 40 kids signed up,” he said. “That is twice as many as last year. We are building back up.” They also requested volunteers who would like to help with the program.

The Leachville City Council meets at 7 p.m. the third Monday of each month.

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