Rector Council Reviews Budget Matters at Meeting

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The majority of business conducted by Rector City Council at their Jan 2, monthly meeting was devoted to the 2018 City of Rector budget.

During the discussion, council members raised several questions about line items in the various departments as related to increases and decreases over the prior year’s budget. Council member Iva Fahr asked about the funds allocated for the Rector Airport and the funds utilized to repair the washouts, some of which will be paid with funds from FEMA. She also requested clarification about the Rector City Park’s refurbishing related to the bandstand and the restrooms. City administrative assistant Kim Romine responded to each question and in this case mentioned, “Much more damage had been heaped upon the bandstand and the restrooms than we had thought, so we have made that investment which was substantial. The city won’t have to deal with that issue next year.”

Community center funds which have been separated, including the Melvin Crockett money market account which is currently drawing more interest were also discussed. Council members also reviewed a budget item related to community development. Romine noted the community development position was paid at an hourly wage. Council members Ryan Lawrence and David Romine suggested the city leave the amount budgeted for that position as it is, but look at realigning some of the components of the position.

The Rector Welcome Center is in need of some maintenance work and the pest control line items for that building and the community center were discussed as needed expenses and council agreed the amount was reasonable for each.

Fees and other expenses that are required were also reviewed. This includes such as the fees related to Shelton Sanitation, prisoner boarding paid to the sheriff's department as necessary, along with the work done on the airport, the bandstand and the restrooms at the City Downtown Park were noted once again. It was noted that the contract with Guite Landscape had been most successful and the council was well pleased.

Expenses related to the conversion from NewWave to CenturyLink for telephone service raised questions, including some possibilities for renegotiating several of the packages. Council noted the change was due to service issues.

In related issues, the Northeast Arkansas Training Center houses only GED classes now and the council asked that contract negotiations be undertaken as there is no need for five telephones and a FAX line along with internet service at the location. Council member Lawrence noted that the use of a FAX line was very outdated and he was sure a better package could be negotiated. Romine was instructed to gather more information on the situation and other options.

Mosquito control funds were high this past year since the city used so much of the chemicals which proved to be far more expensive. Mayor Teresa Roofe said, “We started so much earlier (spraying), we sprayed more, and we sprayed for longer, until we had no more chemicals. It was a hard summer.”

Council members offered several other questions during the discussion, which were answered as points of clarification. The budget was expected to be passed at a special meeting set for 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 3.

In other business, the Council took up the provisions necessary to allow golf carts and side-by-sides on city streets. The measure would come with specific criteria. Those include a restriction allowing only those age 18, and older, with proof of liability insurance. There would also be an annual fee for obtaining a permit, whichcould be re-newed afterward.

Following the discussion council instructed city attorney Kimberly Dale to draft an ordinance to that effect, which will be addressed at an upcoming regular meeting.

In considering the move, council had reviewed information from surrounding towns and cities and are receiving phone calls and text messages from residents who support the potential ordinance. Council members Romine and Lawrence stated, “Let’s give residents a chance to give us more input before we vote on an ordinance.” They recommended tabling the discussion until the February meeting. Mayor Roofe stated the discussion would be resumed in February but did ask Attorney Dale to draft a proposed ordinance.

The usual department reports were shortened due to both Superintendent Todd Watson and Fire Chief Hudson Bowden being on scene at Harps Food Store which experienced a frozen sprinkler system and a drenched electrical panel.

Based on two reports given by the mayor and Rector Police Chief Glen Leach, loose dogs seem to be a significant burden for both residents and the code enforcement officers as well as police officers. They reported a total of 20 dogs were loose with owners receiving citations.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the FFA lease agreement for the Rector School Board and the City of Rector was discussed. No new items related to this lease were mentioned. Mayor Roofe, Attorney Dale, and Superintendent Johnny Fowler will ultimately reach an agreement regarding property surveys, stipulations of return on demand, utility expenses, and other legalities. Such an agreement will set the wheels in motion for this lease to receive the proper signatures.

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