Rector City Council Meets, Honors Outgoing Members
The Rector City Council approved the proposed 2015 operating budget during Monday's regular meeting at the courthouse in city hall. Mayor David Freeman noted the city's finances had improved; pointing out additional funding raised by the county-wide sales tax had helped the city. The proposed budget was amended to include a three percent raise for city employees, as well as a one-time holiday incentive bonus of $400 for full-time employees and $200 for part-time employees, the same amount which was provided in 2013.
"We're happy to be able to give our employees that raise, which was something we had wanted to do in recent years, but just weren't able to financially," alderman Cam Cate said. Teresa Roofe and Lavern "Mac" Manchester of the Council echoed the sentiment. Alderman David Romine abstained from the vote, as he has a family member who would be affected by the change.
The budget also included Ordinance 556, which included pay increases for city officials, as discussed at previous meetings. The position of mayor, which will be held by Roofe beginning in 2015, will increase from $1,000 to $1,250 monthly. Rates for the city recorder and city attorney will increase monthly from $415 to $520 and from $825 to $1,030, respectively.
Mayor Freeman presented plaques of recognition to retiring aldermen Manchester and Cate. Manchester's plaque noted his 58 years of service to the community, including time served as recorder/treasurer and a fireman. Cate was recognized for 14 years of service on the Council. Chief of Police Glenn Leach presented Mayor Freeman with a plaque, honoring his years of service as mayor and a member of the City Council.
A special drop-in reception will be held to honor the three retiring officials from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 7 at the Rector Community Center.
The Council heard from Roy Ballew, owner of the property at 615 East 4th St. Ballew advised the Council he has been in discussions with a local service to remove the structure at the site, as it does not meet city codes. Ballew presented a letter to city superintendent Todd Watson detailing the process, which the Council accepted and agreed to allow Ballew more time to make arrangements for clean up at the site.
Also in attendance was Joan Wagster, whose name appears in a partial ownership capacity during title searches on the 309 West 5th St. property owned by Steven Fallis. Wagster had previously sold the property, but city attorney Kimberley Dale advised Wagster when deed work was done during the previous sale, legal descriptions were drafted inaccurately. Dale encouraged Wagster to meet with an attorney to clarify the issue, ensuring she has no responsibilities when the city assesses fees to the property. Later in the meeting, the Council approved fees in the amount of $8,880 to clean up the 309 West 5th property, in addition to performing a title search, attorney fees and publication required for the process.
The Council also heard from Larry Gore regarding the property 1215 South Phillips. Gore advised the Council he could make improvements to the home which would improve it, agreeing to draft a letter detailing plans to improve the site and have it to the Council prior to the Jan. 5 meeting.
"I would think if we could get a written plan and a timetable from you, then we'd certainly be willing to work with you," Cate said to Gore.
Superintendent Watson advised the Council city employees have been busy placing holiday lights along the highway and streets. According to Watson, the city is usually assisted in this by employees from Entergy, however this year there are fewer Entergy employees working in the area due to recent dismissals. Watson said he had been in contact with Entergy employees and hopes they will be able to assist prior to the Dec. 8 Christmas Parade.
In other business, the Council:
* Heard from Watson Entergy replaced a light near the library, but it did not provide as much additional lighting as hoped. Watson will contact Entergy in regards to placing a new light near the library and fire station for greater brightness with the light pointed away from resident's homes.
* Heard from fire chief Huston Bowden the fire department needs to purchase a new heater for the station, as the previous heater quit working. Bowden presented information on a new, up-to-date model of which the Council approved the purchase at a cost of $619.
* Approved the minutes from the November, 2014, meeting.