Rector Council Meets

Thursday, January 7, 2016
The future of the Rector Armory was discussed at the recent meeting of the city council.(file photo)

Approval of the 2016 budget and discussion concerning future use of the former National Guard armory were key topics at Monday's monthly meeting of the Rector City Council.

After acknowledging several minor amendments to the budget, the council voted unanimously for its passage. The budget has been under consideration for the past several council meetings. Major items in the budget include $772,500 projected revenue in the general fund, $353,300 projected revenue in the water department and $232,400 projected revenue in the street fund. Those are the three largest funds in the overall budget. (A complete budget will be published in the newspaper).

Toward the end of the meeting, mayor Teresa Roofe raised the subject of a council decision on the future of the armory, which was deeded to the city by the Arkansas National Guard following the facility's closure last year.

Among considerations has been converting the armory into a complex for use by various departments of the city. "I would love to do that, but after looking at it, I just don't see how we can afford it," mayor Roofe said. Among items of substantial cost would be repair or replacement of the building's roof, she said.

The council agreed with the mayor's suggestion that Ronnie Brengard of Paragould, who has developed an apparaisal of the facility, be invited to the February meeting to discuss options for the city. The council then would develop a plan for accepting proposals for lease or sale of the property.

Mayor Roofe showed the council a letter from Rector superintendent Johnny Fowler, requesting the council to consider donating the armory to the school. The letter indicates the school would accept full responsibility for the maintenance and liability of the building. The school would use the armory as a multipurpose facility, including a fieldhouse for athletics and other school-related activities. The school also would provide the building for other community groups, such as 4-H clubs.

The mayor said she has received several favorable comments from community members about providing the armory for the school, adding that it would be a "goodwill" move in providing benefits to youth.

City attorney Kimberly Dale said after the meeting that the city legally can donate property to a non-profit organization but there are certain restrictions and guidelines that must be followed.

Maintenance Work

The council voted to hire Dave's Heating and Air of Kennett to perform work at the Northeast Arkansas Innovative Training Center to improve operation of the heating and cooling system.

City superintendent Todd Watson said the contractor will relocate thermostats in the building to allow for more efficient operation of the system. Cost of the work will be $2,275. Watson said the current thermostats can be used for the project and apparently no changes will be needed in the duct work of the building.

Administrative assistant Kim Romine said an electrical contractor has looked at needed changes in the lighting system in several areas of the building. After discussion, the council decided to obtain bids for the needed work.

Property Issues

Watson reviewed several property issues with the council.

The council passed a resolution beginning condemnation proceedings on 302 McNabb Street, property owned by Bill E. Martin of Richland, Miss. Condemnation steps were tabled on 513 South Ballard, property owned by Doyle Esmon of Corning.

It was noted that a court continuance was issued for property on 615 East Fourth Street owned by Roy Ballew.

Community Development Report

Mayor Roofe read a report from community development director Christina Boyd.

The report noted Boyd is working on a grant to obtain funding for police vehicles.

She recently obtained grants from Arkansas Downtown Network that were awarded to two local businesses for building improvements.

Recent activities in the city were the annual Christmas Parade (sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce), a city-wide yard sale and Small Business Saturday (sponsored by Rector Downtown Central).

Boyd said plans are underway for movies in the park and at the community center and potentially a farmers market downtown.

Boyd also added she wants feedback from the council on the various activities being promoted and ideas for other ventures.

Department Reports

*The water department showed a deficit of $1,654 in December, largely because of numerous permits that were required. There were nine new connections, seven disconnects, two water meter replacements and five leaks repaired, according to Watson.

*Watson said three dogs were picked up in the month, no yard letters were sent and there was one building permit.

*Fire chief Huston Bowden said the city's ISO inspection occurred Dec. 14 and a report is due in three or four months. He anticipates retaining the city's Class 4 rating. Total fire collection revenue for the year was $9,265, Bowden said.

*Police chief Glenn Leach said there were no accident reports in December, $71.31 in vehicle repairs, 26 court docket items, one vehicle letter and $3,046.95 in fines.

Other Business

Other items covered in the meeting included:

*Mayor Roofe noted she has been informed that the estate of the late Melvin Crockett will include donations to the Rector Community Center and Woodland Heights Cemetery Commission.

*Attorney Dale said a special meeting is set for 5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 19, to consider a water department bond sale. Refinancing has the potential of saving the city some $100,000 in interest costs over a period of time, she said.

*The council decided to begin the process for securing bids for mowing services in the city. The council asked Watson to put together a list of properties currently being mowed by contractor Scott Bucy and others mowed by the city as a step in developing the bid outline.

*Alderman Ryan Lawrence told the council he renegotiated current agreements with two individuals providing website services to the city to a lower rate. The council approved the changes. Lawrence also asked, and received agreement, to work with Romine on identifying other potential savings in services.

*Watson told the council that Clovis Dement has submitted a letter of resignation from the city's airport committee.

All council members -- Ryan Lawrence, David Romine, Lark Sigsby and Iva Fahr -- were present for the meeting, as was recorder-treasurer Sheila Dale.

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