GF mayor responds to councilman's attempt to impose spending limits

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Green Forest -- "I've never made a mayor's purchase," said Green Forest Mayor Richard Deweese, referring to Alderman Mike Miller's suggestion to decrease the mayor's spending limit. "It's a non-issue."

Miller requested the council discuss the limits during the March meetings, in which Deweese was absent because he was on vacation.

The reasons for discussing the issue, according to Miller, included a 2005 purchase of a $7,500 lawn mower for the wastewater treatment plant, and the mayor's recent support of funding almost $14,000 worth of pre-constructed sewer lines and a manhole to help complete the East View Apartments project on Butler Avenue.

Last Friday, Deweese explained that the January 2005 council-approved budget included the cost of the mower, and that he had gathered three bids before the purchase.

He said he had been accused of purchasing the mower at Tanner's Hardware store because he was employed there at the time.

"There is no commission working for Jerry Tanner," said Deweese, "and that had nothing to do with the purchase."

As for the East View Apartment complex, Bob Hill, representing the owners of the complex, the Carroll County Learning Center, asked the council during a February meeting for nearly $14,000.

He said the $2.2 million project with 26 units, mostly for low-income households, was costing more than anticipated because of the hike in building material costs following hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and because the architect for the job had failed to include essential items in the plan for bid.

The council decided during the March meeting to not fund the project, with Miller stating "that's what banks are for."

However, Deweese said he still supports the approval of the funds because the CCLC has "invested more than $2 million in this community in the past two years.

"Does this mean we can't give incentives to a developer wanting to come to Green Forest?

"Not to mention, the East View Apartments will be the only completed housing development in Green Forest," he said.

He added that in the past, council members approved funds to build the East Ridge Estates housing development infrastructure in the amount of $620,000.

"There was no other reason to have brought (decreasing my spending limits) up but to slander me," said Deweese, who added that he hasn't spent a "dime" that the council hasn't approved.

Council members tabled the spending limit discussion until next month's meeting.

An ordinance passed in August 2006 states that the mayor can approve purchases $5,000 and under, while purchases from $5,000 to $20,000 need approval from the city council and anything over $20,000 goes to bid.

In other business, a meeting to discuss wastewater treatment plant upgrades with representatives of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) will soon be set.

Some of the council members, city wastewater management, Deweese, and members of the McGoodwin, Williams, and Yates engineering firm are planning to attend.

These issues are expected to be discussed further at the next regular city council meeting, April 9 at 7 p.m. in city hall.

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