Hardy Mayor Louie Seibert has a problem with the way the money from the Hamburger Tax is being spent and he wants the city council to take more control of the expenditures.
Seibert told the council at their Aug. 6 meeting the Advertising and Promotion Committee, who is in charge of distributing the tax money, had approved a $10,500 expenditure for advertising without going through the proper channels. Seibert said the committee obtained authorization to spend the money through an illegal phone vote of the council.
Several of the council members said the council approved the committee's spending of one-third of the tax money collected for advertising when the budget was approved in January and the phone vote was actually just a census of the council. However, the approved budget stipulated the committee would contract with Main Street Hardy for advertising. No contract was ever entered into with Main Street Hardy so the mayor said the committee did not have the authority to contract with another company for the services without approval from the council. He requested the council enact an ordinance requiring the committee to have approval before they would be able to spend large sums of money. "The way it's set up they could spend every dime of the money without the council knowing about it," Seibert said. The council discussed Seibert's request but took no action.
Ann Dienst, Advertising and Promotion committee chairman, said the committee was not governed by the council and did not require approval from the council. Dienst said she attempted to contact the city council for a special meeting but was unable to do so due to scheduling conflicts. She said she called the council members and asked for their opinion about contracting with Abacus Consulting, a marketing company, instead of Main Street Hardy and the council members gave their consent; she maintained it was not a vote.
According to Dienst, Abacus will provide all advertising and promotion for Hardy. The $10,500 contract will include a Web site as well as a photography archive. She said the consulting firm would issue press releases about events taking place in the Hardy area and conduct a "whole marketing strategy."
Renea Clay Thomas, a member of Hardy's airport committee, presented a report to the council. According to Thomas, the airport has obtained funding for improvement projects that include widening the runway. Thomas said the airport solicited bids for the project and accepted a bid in the amount of $477,000. Thomas told the council FFA would fund 90 percent of the project, a grant had been obtained for 5 percent and the airport would fund the remaining 5 percent.
Cecelia Jones, Old Hardy Gym coordinator, presented a report to the council. Jones said the gym was being used regularly by Hardy residents as well as being rented for private events.
Seibert told the council White River Planning and Development was assisting the city in applying for a grant to fund improvements at Loberg Park. The city was denied a grant last year, but Seibert said the prospect was good the city would obtain the new grant. Seibert said the city had received a letter from Arkansas Parks and Tourism stating the city would be able to use the park property as matching funds for the grant.
In other business, the council discussed the city's water rates. According to Seibert, the city has had complaints about the rates from several residents. Seibert reported he had spoken to representatives with Arkansas Soil and Water and had been told the city's water rates were among the cheapest in the state. He said he was told there was no computer software available to figure water rates by the 100 gallons instead of 1,000 as some residents and council members had suggested.