The Hardy City Council has a new member.
At the May 6 council meeting, the board of aldermen voted unanimously to appoint Phillip Horrell to the position left vacant since Alderman Jack Huffmaster resigned. Huffmaster's last day on the council was April 30, Mayor Nina Thornton said. Huffmaster did not give his resignation in writing, Thornton said.
"He said that his word was good," she said, adding that he cited health reasons for the cause of his leave.
Horrell is a graduate of Highland High School, a veteran and a rural letter carrier, Thornton said.
Horrell will be sworn in at the Sharp County Courthouse before the next council meeting scheduled for May 20.
In other business, the council will continue to move forward with a proposed citywide sales tax.
Thornton said after speaking with a representative of the Arkansas Municipal League she learned that the city can only pass a tax if it is in quarter increments.
Thornton said the advertising and promotions tax, 1.875 percent charged on all restaurants and lodging facilities, currently brings in about $100,000 annually. If the A&P tax, commonly called the hamburger tax, were removed and the city implemented a 1.75 citywide sales tax it could generate at least $135,000 a year, she said.
"It's a fair tax," said Alderman Bobby Gilliland, who owns a city restaurant.
Alderman Nathan Circle expressed concern about where the tax revenue will be going. Thornton said although the money generated from the tax will be for general use, there will still be funds appropriated for advertising and promotion.
Gilliland said having the tax revenue to use for general use will free up the city's money.
"We've got money now that we can't touch," he said.
Alderman Amy Hussung said the council should review the matter more and have some hard figures before the council approves an ordinance to put the matter officially on the ballot.
"I think it's probably the best way to go, but I think we should see some figures first," she said.
Hussung will look further into the matter along with Circle and Main Street Hardy Director Kim Wilson.
The A&P account currently has $53,000 in it, Thornton said, but some of that money will be required for use to repair the city's park system once funding is approved by FEMA. The federal agency will pay for 75 percent of the cost of repair, the state will pay for 12.5 percent and the city will be responsible for the remaining 12.5 percent, she said.
"We're in a position we've got to get our park system back up," Alderman Ray Hicks said.
The council voted unanimously to increase the insurance coverage on the city stop light.
The state actually owns the light although the city is responsible for it, Thornton said. The cost to replace the light is $150,000. The city has it insured for just $5,628, she said.
The city currently pays $11.25 a year for the insurance. If the insurance is increased to cover the replacement cost, the city will have to budget an additional $300 a year, she said.
The council voted unanimously to give Main Street $400 to help with electric bills.
Director Wilson said the utility bills for the Main Street office, located in the bottom of the Hardy Gym, have been substantially higher in recent months.
Wilson said she learned the kitchen in the gym is wired to the office's meter. The refrigerator and the hot water heater had been left on over time causing the increase in the bills, she said. Both appliances were turned off, and the problem has been remedied.
Wilson asked the council for assistance with the bills which went from about $50 a month to $200 a month.
Hussung said the city should help with the bills.
"This bill wasn't their fault it got ran up," she said, adding that everyone benefits when Main Street or another entity hosts a function in the city.
Wilson said the Arts and Crafts festival was still a success although the number of vendors has dwindled from years past.
Of the 200 applications she sent to previous vendors, only 34 came back to the festival this year, she said. Of those, 13 registered to come back for the fall show. She also said there was a good crowd that attended the event.
Main Street's fifth event for the year will be called Junk and Jam. The event will feature music and a flea market at the park. It will be held during Labor Day weekend.
The council gave its approval for the Hardy Garden Club to beautify an area outside of the Hardy Gym. The garden club will maintain the permanent plantings.
The city will also put up a sign on the landing outside the door of the gym to direct smokers to the designated smoking area.
Ernie Rose, director of Public Safety, said his 25 volunteer firefighters put in a total of 314 hours during the recent floods.
He also told how the firefighters responded to a call of a 3-year-old choking on two quarters at McDonald's recently. The quick response saved the child's life, he said.
While he has heard a great deal of praise for the department, the department has also received a number of complaints of youth skateboarding in the area. The officers are looking at possible solutions to the problem.
Betty Holm said she is working on putting together a recipe book to sell with proceeds going to the Hardy Library building fund.
She said recipes and brief histories and anecdotes about the library can be dropped off at the Cluttered Cupboard, the library or the Hardy Fire Department by the end of the month.