State slaps Eureka with $15,000 fine for sewage leaks

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

EUREKA SPRINGS -- After years of wastewater treatment plant problems, the State of Arkansas has finally decided to put a stop to letting things slide and fined the City of Eureka Springs $15,000.

According to Public Works Director Jay Wilson, who notified the city council of the action during its Sept.10 meeting, a payment plan has been worked out with the state, as he knew the funds would be charged to his department's budget. An initial payment of $10,000 is required, with the balance being payable over an extended period.

The treatment plant has long been deemed unsafe, contributing to bio-waste in Leatherwood Creek, which runs through Elk Ranch before flowing into Table Rock Lake at Holiday Island.

In a related matter at the Sept. 10 council meeting, Little Rock lawyer Michael Moyers fulfilled the legal requirement of reading the terms and conditions of a recently-approved bond issue for construction of a new waste water treatment plant.

Meanwhile, the city faces a $10,000 expense to underwrite election costs if a petition for a referendum on the city's new demolition by neglect ordinance is successful. Eureka Springs has a history of frequent referendum elections and faces increased costs for such elections due to the Help America Vote Act.

Alderman Charlotte Buchanan read a prepared statement regarding the possibility of a referendum and taking issue with the apparently growing hostility between factions in the town.

Buchanan was sued by a group of merchants regarding the legality of the Sunday Market she created on North Main Street, which she said prompted her to hire a lawyer for the first time in her life.

Buchanan also denied the existence of any agreement between her and council members Eric Scheunemann, Kathy Harrison and Rae Hahn to vote as a bloc.

Harrison also addressed the change in the level of hostility, referring to the investigation of her by the State Ethics Commission.

The former mayor said that the ethics complaint was filed by the same person who filed an earlier one, and that the commission then admonished her and advised her to return home and file suit.

She said that this time it will be different, with the balance of the current investigation taking place in Eureka Springs instead of Little Rock.

Hahn also expressed concern about the level of meanness and the costs of a referendum election.

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