Council discusses expanding terms, stalls raises

Thursday, June 17, 2004

The Eureka Springs City Council is willing to consider a proposal to expand council terms to four years and to set staggered terms, but members want to wait until after the mid-year budget review to see if there is enough money to raise their salaries $3,600 per year.

Four-year council terms have been suggested several times by former council members and were one factor in the recent drive to change the city's form of government to that of a city administrator.

Increasing council salaries was another factor.

Council members now make $2,400 per year.

Mayor Kathy Harrison proposed Monday night raising that amount to $6,000, the same salary as the mayor makes.

She said it would give some of the people holding down two or three jobs incentive to run for council.

"I know there are people who would like to serve on the council, but they can't because they have to work at other jobs," she said. "If they could give up one job, and make enough on the council to afford to give up that job, I think there would be more people willing to run."

Alderman Earl "Bud" Umland immediately proposed tabling any discussion of council salaries until after the mid-year budget review.

"The town economy is in serious trouble," he said. "We may not have enough money for raises."

If the council should approve raises, they would probably go into effect at the first of next year for the incoming council members.

Alderman Gayle Money wanted to know if the mayor was planning on asking for a raise in her salary.

"No, I'm not planning on that," Harrison answered.

The aldermen seemed to like the proposal to elect council members from wards.

Council members now must live in one of the three wards they wish to represent, but are voted on at-large by all the voters in the community.

"I think people consider they are voting by wards now because of the way the candidates are set up," said Alderman Karen Lindblad. "I think it would provide better representation to some areas to have elections by wards."

Umland agreed that it would "give more intimacy to voters to feel they can contact one person for representation."

Council members asked City Attorney Tim Weaver to prepare an ordinance setting up voting for council members by ward and establishing the schedule for staggering four-year terms for council members.

44 Owen

After months of discussion between Betty Zaboly, the Parks and Recreation Commission and the council, aldermen voted to vacate the portion of Dunlap Street covered by Zaboly's garage.

Vacating the street will split the property between Zaboly and her neighbor Sharon Bryant. Zaboly will pay Bryant for the portion of her new property covered by the garage.

She will also pay the city a "nominal fee" of $10.

Zaboly started nine months ago trying to clear her title to her property at 44 Owen when she discovered the garage sat on a city street going up the hill behind her house.

She also realized that the city has a sewer line running under one corner of her house without an easement.

She initially offered to swap an easement for the garage property, but the Parks Commission didn't want to give up its land.

Beaver Bridge resolution

Pat Matsukis presented a resolution supporting the proposal that Highway 187 between Highway 23 north and Highway 62 west and the Beaver suspension bridge over Table Rock Lake not be altered in any way.

She presented two versions, the same except for the last paragraph.

The first just says the council and mayor "support that alternative plans be made so as to keep Highway 187 preserved and the bridges and roads left intact for current and future generations to enjoy."

The second version put the responsibility for the road and bridge into the hands of Carroll County.

Former County Judge Ed Robertson and the Quorum Court refused to take over the maintenance of both because of the expense.

Sitting County Judge Mike Botelho "won't even talk to me about the situation," Matsukis said.

After some discussion, the council agreed to approve a resolution including "that alternative plans be made by the State of Arkansas."

The Planning Commission discussed the resolution last week. Commissioner Eric Scheunemann offered a resolution in support of Matsukis' proposal, but asking Carroll County to take over responsibility for the road and bridge.

Planning Commission members turned down Scheunemann's resolution in favor of the general resolution offered by Matsukis. They did not want to obligate the county or state for the maintenance.

Matsukis will present similar resolutions to the Berryville City Council and Holiday Island Suburban Improvement District.

Retaining walls

Two property owners presented their cases for the city maintaining retaining walls on or very close to their property in light of the proposed ordinance clarifying which walls the city would accept responsibility for.

The ordinance says walls holding up private property are to be maintained by the property owners. Walls holding up roadways or sidewalks will be maintained by the city.

Mark Jipp, co-owner of the Veranda Inn, said there are no records to be found explaining who built the massive stone wall at the back of his property on Ellis Grade/ Spring St.

His survey shows parts of the wall "in the city and parts out of the city," he said.

He is concerned about the large bulge in the wall and cracks.

Jeff and Lee Jeans have bought the house at 7 Hillside, which sits behind a retaining wall supporting the street.

Jeff Jeans said he has had to spend $5,000 to remove toxic mold from the house caused by the bad condition of the wall.

He said the force exerted against the supporting wall by the city's trolleys is pushing the wall outward.

The council listened to both cases, but finally Umland called for the question to end discussion because it had no bearing on whether or not the ordinance should be approved on its third and final reading.

The vote to approve failed with a split of 3 to 3, with Money, Penny Carroll and Berry voting against; Lindblad, Bill Ott and Umland voting for.

Preserve America

The council approved a resolution "in support of the historic assets of Eureka Springs."

Certified Local Government (CLG) Coordinator Glenna Booth asked for the resolution as part of a nationwide preservation program.

Communities participating in the "Preserve America" program get White House recognition, a road sign, and a variety of national press.

The entire city limits was designated as a National Historic District in 1970.

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