Interim mayor's final action focuses on grant funds: Compton objects to extra pay for bookkeeping
GREEN FOREST ---- Presiding over what may be her last regular council meeting as interim mayor, Janell Compton made quick work of a lengthy agenda Monday night.
Whoever is elected to fill the remaining two years of former Mayor Leonard Tidyman's term, either Joe Pierce or Richard Deweese, can take their seat on council once the Nov. 2 election results are certified, likely before the next regular council meeting.
During Monday's business, the council heard from Rob Kerby, with the Carroll County Resource Council, who was asked by Compton to talk about two grants administered by the City of Green Forest.
Kerby said they were the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Carroll County and the Law Enforcement-Education Partnership's Keep a Clear Mind program.
City bookkeeper Laura Greer was the bookkeeper for the grants, he explained, earning $3,749, or 5 percent of funds disbursed from each grant for "taking care of all documentation, reporting, accounting and audit attendance," on her own time, an arrangement approved by former Mayor Tidyman.
Compton objected, saying no one on the council was aware of the agreement.
She suggested that the 5 percent be put in the city general fund to help pay Greer's salary and the grant bookkeeping be accomplished on city time.
Kerby noted that Greer was receiving extra pay for extra work.
"That's her job as bookkeeper," Compton responded.
Kerby suggested that the city formalize any future agreements, rather than acting on verbal agreements between friends.
"With a change in administration, it would be good to have a formal agreement," he explained, and provided a memorandum of agreement for the council to consider.
In other business, the council hired Scott Demers to fill a vacancy at the city's wastewater treatment plant after interviewing two applicants for the position in executive session.
Council members also approved a contractual agreement with the engineering firm of McGoodwin, Williams and Yates to handle possible upgrades at the wastewater plant should a new state permit make the work necessary.
Berryville Mayor Tim McKinney spoke to the council about Amendment 2, which will allow the state general assembly to spend up to five percent of general revenues to attract new businesses to the state.
According to McKinney, the amendment is well-supported and endorsed by cities, counties, chambers and organizations. He asked the council to approve a resolution lending its support, which it did.
Mitch Santella, with Ozark Regional Transit, received a favorable response from the council when requesting additional funds for the public transportation system.
Santella said the loss of Medicaid funds has created a shortfall that requires participating cities and the county to ante up more than they have in the past.
The City of Green Forest has contributed $750 annually to help fund two full-time buses and one part-time bus to carry handicapped and low-income passengers to shopping facilities, work, the hospital and medical clinics.
"This is a very needed service," said Santella. "Some people will be homebound without the service."
He said it costs $38,000 a year to operate one bus. Half of that amount comes from federal matching funds.
"It's $19,000 for our share of one bus," he said. "The county will give $5,000 and Berryville has said it will contribute $12,000. We're still $2,000 short for one bus."
Santella noted that it would be difficult to serve the entire county with one bus, but said "one is better than none," and asked the council for $3,000 annually.
Alderman Paul McCormick suggested that the council wait until after the council decides what to do about prisoner and dispatcher fees owed to the county.
Santella said the money was needed now because the fiscal year began Oct. 1.
"We definitely want to help," said Alderman Kelly Hayhurst. "It's a matter of figuring out where to get the money from." The council tabled further action, in part because the county judge wasn't there to explain the fees.
They mayor's spending limit was discussed after Alderman Mike Miller placed the issue on the agenda, saying the former mayor spent money Miller didn't know about.
Miller suggested lowering the $2,500 limit to $500, but Alderman McCormick objected, saying that could result in "a lot of special meetings."
During the discussion, it was mentioned that "communication" between the mayor and council could go a long way toward alleviating potential problems. The matter was tabled.
A change order for the East Ridge sewer project was tabled until a survey is complete. If approved, five additional families will be provided sewer service that was reportedly promised by a former administration.
Fire Chief Chris Trask asked permission to spend budgeted money to purchase 25 extrication suits at a cost of approximately $250 each to use at traffic accidents and wildland fires. The council reviewed the bids received and requested additional information before taking action. They were relieved to learn that burned wires on the city's pumper truck cost only $500 to repair.
Two street lights were approved, one on Sycamore and another on Pine, and a pedestrian bridge for the waking trail at the city park was ordered.
Also, the council formally endorsed Halloween trick-or-treating on Saturday night instead of Sunday because of church services Sunday evening.