Green Forest budget: Proposal includes 4 percent raise for officers

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Green Forest’s proposed 2019 budget for Green Forest includes a raise for all police officers.

At the Green Forest City Council’s budget meeting Tuesday, Dec. 18, Mayor Charles Reece said the city would be increasing police officers’ pay by 4 percent.

“We called around and got the average salaries of all the cities,” he said, “with regards to what they’re paying their people, and we put in a 4 percent increase for all police officers.”

He said starting pay for uncertified officers would increase from $11.55 per hour to $13.50 per hour. For certified officers who have completed the academy, he said pay will increase from $13.97 per hour to $15 per hour.

“The rest is strictly by percent,” Reece said. “The total is $445,000 for [law enforcement] salaries.”

Reece said the salaries for the school resource officers (SRO) total about $140,000.

“We have three SROs so far,” he said, “and I believe we’re getting a fourth. The plan is to have one for each school campus.”

Green Forest Police Chief John Bailey said the department is advertising for the fourth SRO right now.

“We’re still trying to find the right fit,” he said. “The school pays for half of the salaries and will continue to pay half. If the SROs acquire any overtime there, the school also pays for all of it.”

The proposed budget projects $2,246,250 in revenue for the general fund, $57,250 for fire department revenue,

$931,820 for administration department expenses, $359,465 for parks and recreation department expenses and $809,000 for law enforcement expenses.

For city and fire, the budget projects $2,303,500 in revenue and $2,217,656 in expenses.

For the water department general fund, the budget projects $6,467,500 for operating revenue and $6,449,082 in expenses.

Reece said the budget projects $3 million in water collections.

“That is probably going to almost double when Tyson gets their expansion going,” he said.

For the wastewater fund, the budget projects $13,303,500 in operating revenue and $12,115,107 in expenses.

Reece said there is $20,000 budgeted for fire runs.

“At one time, the volunteer firemen’s attendance to meetings and to calls was low,” he said, “so we pay $5 for each medical call and $10 for each fire and car wreck call. It’s to pay them for the inconvenience. I think it’s a good deal.”

For the street fund, the budget projects $275,850 in revenue and $266,773 in expenses.

While the budget projects about $22 million in total operating revenue, he said the expenses of the new wastewater plant expansion need to be taken into account.

“If you take away $10,500,000 for the wastewater plant,” he said, “the actual working budget for 2019 will be approximately $12 million.”

The council will vote on the budget at its next regular meeting at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 8, at City Hall.

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