Murphy resigns, council wants tax appeal process

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Eureka Springs Mayor Kathy Harrison announced the resignation of Finance Director Diane Murphy as another marathon city council meeting got underway Monday evening.

Murphy handed her resignation letter to Harrison about 2 p.m. Friday, then left City Hall for the day. She said her last day of employment would be May 21.

Harrison and all of the council members thanked Murphy for her years of service to the city during the "comments" portion of the meeting shortly before the 10:30 adjournment.

CAPC appeal procedure

In one of the shorter discussions of the evening, council members instructed City Attorney Tim Weaver to meet with City Advertising and Promotion Commission (CAPC) Executive Director LeRoy Gorrell to work out an appeals process to deal with persons not collecting the 2 percent gross sales tax who should be.

Weaver said the city's CAPC ordinance does not have an appeal process.

"We don't have a process to do anything if someone is not paying the tax who should be," he said. "We need to create an appeals body which will give notice, hold a hearing and make a decision. If a person disagrees with the decision, the matter can be appealed to circuit court."

The agenda item regarding the definition of "gift shops" in the CAPC ordinance was postponed because the ordinance is not ready.

Betty Zaboly property

Transit Director Lamont Richie reported the Green Space Committee from the Parks and Recreation Commission is just about ready to bring recommendations and guidelines to the commission for dealing with "green spaces" which have been renamed as "rights-of-way" issues.

Betty Zaboly has part of a platted city street under her garage at 44 Owen and a city sewer line under a corner of her house without an easement.

She has been working since October of 2003 to get the Parks Commission and/or the council to make some determination about the properties.

Since this type of case happens often within the town, the Green Space Committee has been meeting regularly for several months to try to formulate some guidelines for how to handle the situations.

An ordinance giving the city control over the portion of street under the garage has been approved by the council, but will not go into effect until early June.

Richie said the committee would be willing to consider vacation of some portions of the "green spaces" which will never be used for any public purpose. Each piece of property is to be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Reassignment of money

Public Works Director Robert Forrest spent nearly an hour explaining his plans for installation of a new wastewater treatment system to serve the city.

A $1,875,000 bond issue was approved in 2002 for improvements to the wastewater treatment plant on Highway 23 North and to replace sewer lines. Another $875,000 remains from a 2000 bond issue for similar work.

Forrest wants to use the money to build an "SBR" plant in the same location which will meet the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) standards for wastewater treatment.

He says "we" can build the plant for $2.2 million instead of the $6 million an engineering company would charge.

He said the city's digester is 90 percent non-functional because of age and poor design.

He has already started the process to purchase a belt press to handle the sludge from the plant, with ADEQ permission.

Alderman Penny Carroll challenged his recommendations for equipment.

"Who have you talked to about this system?" she asked. "Is there anyone who will recommend a different type of treatment? How do we know what you propose is the best for Eureka Springs?"

Forrest said he has has several engineers and wastetreatment experts look at the plant and they have all recommendation the "SBR" system as the most efficient for Eureka Springs.

As council members were trying to figure out whether or not they had to vote to approve Forrest's project, Mayor Harrison said, "No. You do not have to approve anything tonight. ADEQ is who approves these plans. This presentation has been a sharing of information to keep the council and the citizens informed about what is happening with this project."

Retaining Walls

Forrest had also spent about half an hour in the beginning of the meeting trying to explain the need for the ordinance clarifying the language in the Municipal Code book regarding city-owned and privately-owned retaining walls and who should pay for what repairs to the walls.

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