Piggott Council Approves Budget, Recognizes Edwards at Meeting

Thursday, December 22, 2016
Mayor Jim Poole (left) presents a plaque of appreciation to Alderman Lester Edwards at the special Piggott City Council meeting held Monday, Dec. 19. (TD photo/Tim Blair)

Members of the Piggott City Council met during the noon hour Monday at city hall, as their regular December meeting conflicts with the upcoming Christmas holiday. During the gathering council approved the City General proposed budget for 2017, handled a variety of other matters and took a moment to recognize outgoing Alderman Lester Edwards.

With all members in attendance the meeting was called to order by Mayor Jim Poole. Also on hand were City Clerk Ramona Magee, City Attorney Kimberly Dale and City Clerk Jamie Cluck along with Utilities Director Brian Haley.

After dispensing with the minutes and clerk's reports, the council members turned their attention to repealing Ordinance #443. The ordinance provided the residence requirements for city employees which were recently adjusted, and modifies the guidelines for professional staff members. The changes were addressed at a meeting earlier this year, and the changes made in the draft of the employee handbook.

Aldermen placed the measure on all three readings, title only, and approved it without dissent along with the emergency clause. Afterward, they approved the employee handbook policy, which also includes the changes, on a vote of 4-0.

Council members were informed there were a few other minor changes to the handbook, primarily those required by the Municipal League. They were also reminded that changes could be made at any time going forward, and were provided with copies of the draft for review.

The city general 2017 proposed budget was also approved on a vote of 4-0.

"Of course, like the handbook you can make changes any time you need to," Poole told the body. "But, we won't be considering the 2016 amended budget until January, after we get all the rest of the bills in and such."

Council members also approved a resolution to allow lien proceedings to continue on five pieces of property in the city which have required city maintenance and upkeep. A hearing on the five was held Dec. 13, and a single property owner did attend, although the issue of the cost of the upkeep was not resolved.

The aldermen voted 4-0 to allow the lien process to continue on the follow properties--

309 South Thornton Avenue, 243 North Taylor Avenue, 381 South Moore Avenue, 808 East Jackson Street and 849 East Cherry Street. The costs levied for work done at the locations includes $7,333 for the property on South Thornton Avenue and $2,333 each on the other four parcels. This includes cost of mowing, spraying, postage for certified letters, cost of publication for legal notices and the cost of the lien procedure.

Afterward, the council members voted to amend the agenda and consider this year's Consumer Price Index (CPI) as it applies to utility rates.

"Currently, the CPI is up a little over one percent and based on the ordinance passed years ago the electric, water and sewer rates would go up accordingly," Haley explained to the council. "In recent years we've waived the CPI on electric only, but it's up to you."

Haley noted the CPI in December was up 1.7 percent, which would equate to a 17-cent increase in the minimum water charge per month. "But, if you don't waive it on the electric bills there will be a 1.7 percent increase in rates across the board."

Alderman Mike Cook offered the motion to waive the CPI on the electric only, with the second provided by Alderman Jamey Parks. The matter passed on a vote of 4-0 with aldermen Edwards and Jeff Benbrook concurring.

Late in the meeting Poole recognized Edwards for his long-time service to the city.

"He has not only served many years on city council, he was one of the original members of the Parks and Recreation Commission," Poole said of Edwards. "And, we sure appreciate all he has done for the city in his service over the years."

Mayor Poole then presented Edwards with a plaque of appreciation.

"It has been my pleasure to serve the City of Piggott, and to serve with all of you and the others who have been on this council," Edwards offered in accepting the recognition. "I don't think a lot of people realize what a good crew we have here, and what a good job they do. I'm talking about the officials and the employees we have here with the city."

Edwards also congratulated the other aldermen on their cooperative attitude, and implored them to continue to do their best to serve the community.

"Just keep doing what you're doing," he added. "I can tell you that things are a lot better off now than they have been in the past, thanks to the work of this mayor and others. It's been good to be a part of it."

Edwards was attending his last regular meeting as alderman, as he was unseated by Travis Williams in the General Election. Williams will be sworn-in on Jan. 1, and will assume the post.

Following the presentation the council members voted to go into an executive session to discuss personnel matters. They reconvened a short time later and dismissed without taking further action.

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