HEBER SPRINGS — Equity in 911 funding was in discussion before the Heber Springs City Council, as was plans to rehab Sandy Beach. The council also reviewed the possibility or raising millage, along with other administrative issues.
The meeting was held Oct. 15 at the Community Center, the regular monthly meeting of the group.
The 911 discussion was due to the nature of the agreement between the city and the county, and in turn how expenses were tracked and recorded. The matter came to discussion because, City of Heber Springs Mayor Jimmy Clark told the council, he had received a bill from the county for October payment.
Councilman Paul Muse stated that he was not willing to pay the bill due to there being no formal agreement in place. Muse had brought this up at the August council meeting, and the council voted not to pay without a written agreement. Concerns were if the city was being billed a fair share of 911 expense, or if the city was being billed in excess of the requirement for 911 operation.
Earlier in the year the state had restructured how 911 expenses were paid, based upon per-line billing of phone owners. Council members reviewed what was paid to the county by the state for 911 operations and made a rough determination that the money paid, of between $90,000 and $125,000 per quarter, should be appropriate to provide for 911 operations based upon figures used in calculating the 2020 budget.
Operations for 911 had been budgeted in total at $533,000 for 2020.
If, the conclusion was drawn, the county receives $100,000 from the state for the fourth quarter of 2020, it should cover 911 expenses without any city contribution.
“They [the county] don’t get any money until I get a written agreement,” Muse said.
Clark told the council that he had spoke with Cleburne County Judge Jerry Holmes and a written agreement was forthcoming. Muse replied that he was not willing to see a “best guess on the numbers” for the 911 budget.
Clark presented a letter dated Oct. 15 from CWB Engineers, Inc., regarding the rehab of Sandy Beach after damage from 2017 flooding.
The letter discussed the money received from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as part of a disaster declaration as a result of the 2017 flooding. The money was based upon FEMA paying 75 percent of the cost and the city paying the remaining 25%.
At the time of the initial proposal this was expected to be $369,756.68 and $123,252.23, respectively, for a total of $493,008.90. Since then the project had been bid, and as a result of bids received Oct. 13 the costs had lowered to $320,334.75 and $106,778.25 for a total of $427,113, the letter stated.
Low bidder was BWC Builders, Inc.
Clark told the council the rehab would include the boat ramp and the drive into the park, and work should start in two to three weeks and take 90 days to complete.
After confirming the city had the funds on hand for its share of the project, the council approved the work.
Lake levels had been too high to initiate the work until recently, the council was told.
A brief discussion was held on the city’s millage, currently at 4.8, with Clark telling the council that bringing the millage to 5.0, the limit allowed, would generate roughly $20,000 in revenue for the city.
Discussion included review of tax revenues for the city, which had been “good” the council was told, despite the pandemic and the lock downs earlier in the year. The council voted to maintain the millage at 4.8.
In other council matters:
The council voted to approve the Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) policy for the city. The vote was a formality to meet legal requirements, as the council had previously approved electronic funds transfer.
Additional housekeeping issues were the approval of the review of Parks and Water departments bonds to assure no preferential treatment was given. The council also approved a payroll change for a police corporal, due to his promotion.
The purchase of a skid steer for the city was approved. The majority of the unit’s discounted purchase price was provided by White River Planning of $41,508, with $24,563 due from the city. The skid steer, a John Deere model, will be used by sanitation and street departments.
The council approved a property variance as two properties were found to be six-to-eight inches over on permitted setback. Also approved on its first reading was a plat variance ordinance for Brighton Point.
A lease of land at the airport was approved. The land will be filled in as preparation for hangar construction.
A drive-through Oct. 31 event, “After Dark at the Park” will be held at the Community Center beginning at 5 p.m., the council was told. Christmas open house would be Nov. 6-8.