GF council OKs budget, police raise
By Kelby Newcomb
The Green Forest City Council voted Tuesday to approve the 2019 city budget, including a raise for all police officers.
The budget increases police officers’ pay by 4 percent. Starting pay for uncertified officers will increase from $11.95 per hour to $13.50 per hour, and pay for certified officers who have completed the academy will increase from $13.97 per hour to $15 per hour.
Newly elected mayor Jerry Carlton addressed the city at his first council meeting.
“I would like to thank former mayor Charles Reece, council members and city employees for their hard work and diligence in improving our city,” Carlton said, “and setting the groundwork for future improvements. Also, many thanks to the citizens of Green Forest for trusting in me to run their city.”
The council also welcomed new alderman Carroll Smith.
The council voted to approve combining grants for a proposed community building.
Public works director Buddy Fry said the city has received $80,000 through a Community Development Block Grant, $50,000 through a grant from Tyson Foods and $7,500 in general improvement funds from state Rep. Ron McNair.
“The block grant is a 90/10 grant,” Fry said, “so they’re going to pay $75,000 and we pay $5,000. To combine the grants, we would have to change the location on the $80,000 grant from behind the new city hall to the parks. That way, we can use all those monies down by the soccer field and build a community center there.”
Alderwoman Willa Kerby asked Fry if he had to ask the grant administrators about the change before seeking approval from the council.
“I had to have your approval before I could ask about changing the location of the block grant,” he said.
The council later voted to approve a bid of $101,459 from Kirk’s Excavation for the Larimer Park project.
Fry said the city has received a $100,000 Transportation Alternative Program (TAP) grant from the Arkansas Department of Transportation for the project.
“This is an 80/20 grant,” he said. “The park will include a trail with about six benches and six lights similar to what we have at the Sixth Street Park. It’s going to be a park for the north part of town. We have a lot of kids in the north part of town who don’t have anywhere to go. This park will have an area to kick a soccer ball, throw a Frisbee or throw a baseball, somewhere to walk and somewhere just to sit.”
The council also approved a wastewater certificate of deposit (CD) renewal with a three-year contract and an annual percentage yield of 3.25 percent. Carlton said the current amount in the CD is $158,545.82.
Smith made a motion to hold council meetings in the evenings instead of the mornings. He said several residents have asked him about changing the time so that they can attend the meetings.
“I make a motion we move them to night so people can show up,” he said. “5 p.m. to 6 p.m. should be sufficient. Most people usually get off work around 4 p.m. We probably need to keep the meetings on the second Tuesday.”
No one seconded the motion, so it died on the table.
The council’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 12, at City Hall.