Ash Flat Mayor Brien Nix Hall said he will not sign an agreement with Sharp County for Central Dispatch services until he has some questions answered.
Hall said he plans to be included on the Feb. 13 agenda for the Sharp County Quorum Court meeting.
"I will not sign an agreement until I know all the facts," he said at the Jan. 23 council meeting.
Ash Flat has already committed to paying Sharp County for dispatch services for the police and fire departments for the first quarter of 2006, but Hall said he will not sign a contract with the county for the year until he is comfortable with the Central Dispatch situation.
"I have serious questions on how the invoices are being divided up," he said, adding that ambulance services and other agencies that use dispatch are not being charged at all.
County Judge Joe Stidman based the Central Dispatch funding requests on the funding formula used by the state to disburse turnback funds. The county is responsible for $59,937.31 (46.15 percent). Cherokee Village was asked to pay $28,861.66 (22.43 percent); Cave City $14,163.94 (11.01 percent); Highland $7,412.77 (5.76 percent); Ash Flat $7,330.07 (5.70 percent); Hardy $5,465.60 (4.25 percent); Evening Shade $3,495.88 (2.72 percent); Sidney $2,067.45 (1.61 percent); Williford $473.63 (.37 percent). The turnback formula is based on population.
Hall said a formula based on usage might be better for all cities, adding that Cave City officers are heard on the scanner frequently.
Ash Flat Police Chief Mike Zeiger said that although he encourages his officers not to abuse dispatch, even some of the calls he makes while performing his job could be reduced.
"We can get a lot of these lame duck calls weeded out," Hall said.
Hall said he fully supports 9-1-1 and Central Dispatch but thinks the county might be able to budget more wisely.
"We use it. I don't want to lose it," he said. "We all have to be good stewards ---- the county and city."
According to a letter to Hall from Stidman, the Central Dispatch budget for 2006 has increased by $30,800 to $249,940.26. Hall said he has questions about the increase that he hopes to address during the county meeting.
"We have got to look at what's going on with this system because it's obviously not working," Hall said.
In other business, the council approved salary increases for all city employees. All employees of the police and fire departments received a 4-percent raise with the exception of the chiefs. Fire Chief Stacy Horton received a 2-percent raise. Zeiger received a 2-percent raise and will be able to drive his city vehicle home each night. In addition, city worker Jared Allen's pay was increased from $9 to $10 an hour. Park and Street Superintendent Gary Benton will see an increase to $14.50 from $13.84. Water and sewer employee Donald Booth's pay was increased from $11.84 to $13 an hour. Water and sewer employee Tracy Breckenridge's pay increased from $9 an hour to $9.50. City Hall employee Sharon Lacount's pay was increased from $9 to $9.50 an hour. City Hall employee Mackie Thompson's pay was increased from $8 an hour to $9.50. City employee Rick Stroud's pay increased from $8.49 an hour to $9.25. Recorder/treasurer Charlotte Goodwin's and Hall's pay were increased by 4 percent. Both declined the increase.
"We appreciate everyone," Hall said. "We value each one of you and we're glad you're here."
The council unanimously tabled an ordinance requiring billboard owners to put forth an annual fee for advertising space within the city limits. The ordinance, as presented at the meeting, referred to the fee as a tax. Hall asked City Attorney Larry Kissee to change the word "tax" to "permit" instead. The ordinance is to be presented again at the Feb. 20 council meeting.
"I know it's a matter of verbiage, but still, it's not a tax," Hall said.
The council tabled an ordinance prohibiting construction or building near city utilities without a permit. Alderman Scott Brewer suggested the city require contractors or residents to post a $500 bond at the time they obtain a permit. Once the work is completed to the city's specifications, the bond would be refunded. The ordinance would also set a fee for each day the problem remains unfixed. Kissee is to rewrite the ordinance to include the changes.
The council unanimously agreed to purchase a new firetruck from Leeco Inc. Fire Equipment Sales of Damascus if the city is awarded a $50,000 Rural Services block grant. The truck is priced at $142,000.
The council unanimously agreed to contract with the North Arkansas Development Council to provide transportation services to the elderly in the area for $2,400 a year.
The council unanimously agreed to approve a resolution supporting a feasibility study for the Walnut Ridge Airport.
Hall and Aldermen Jerrell Lesley and Carolyn Stewart were recognized and presented with or plaques for donating their entire 2005 council pay toward the American Veterans' Memorial under construction on Nix Ridge Road.
The city will install a fire hydrant near the Sharp County Courthouse for additional fire protection. The closest hydrants are at Auto Medicine Men and at the corner of Arnhart and Court Streets.
In case of fire, the firetrucks may not be able to use the hydrants to fight a fire at the new public health facility. The council agreed to install a hydrant, but no vote was taken.