The City of Cherokee Village held their regular monthly city council meeting Feb. 25 at Cherokee Village City Hall. There was a larger than usual group in attendance as members of the council and Mayor Lloyd Hefley began the meeting.
Following roll call, a few changes to the agenda and approval of both the Jan. 26 and Feb. 3 meetings after corrections, Hefley presented the yearly State of the City report. Hefley noted that despite the ice storm and flooding, the city came in under budget for 2009. He also updated attendees on accomplishments of the city throughout the year including the formation of the A Better Cherokee Village Committee, which is currently conducting a formal needs assessment and will later utilize the information obtained from surveys that are currently being filled out by residents to make a more in depth plan for the future of the community. Hefley gave praise to Alderman Lynn Maxedon for spearheading the group.
Hefley also told council his city has combined efforts with those of Hardy, Ash Flat, Highland, Sidney and Sharp County in helping with a possible natural gas system for the county as well as participating in a county wide economic development program.
Hefley also told of changes and accomplishments of all departments under the control of the city. He said that in 2009, the city got two police chiefs, after Chief Jason French left the city, current Police Chief Ricky Crook was moved to head the department. He said they reestablished the Criminal Investigation Division and promoted Officer Tamara Taylor to full-time, marking a milestone for the city, as she became the first full-time female officer. The city also received Richey Thatcher as a new officer, who was promoted to Sergeant with Crook's promotion to chief. The Cherokee Village Police Department also received a $5,450 grant for in car video equipment and received eight hand held radios from the county under a Homeland Security grant. Crook and Thatcher, as well as the mayor attended ICS 300 and 400 training.
Hefley then moved to the fire departments summary for 2009. He said the department worked 958 man hours, 797 equipment hours and 709 saw hours during the first eight days of the February ice storm. He said the department responded to 313 calls during the year including 15 structure fires and 80 public assist calls, a huge increase from 32 in the previous year.
Following the fire department summary, Hefley moved to the Street Departments 2009 report. He praised the efforts of Street Superintendent David Crayne throughout the year. Again, the catastrophes from Mother Nature were outlined both in damage results to the city as well as dollar figures. Hefley said the entire city worked well with the National Guard, boot camp inmates, volunteers, and utility workers throughout the city in their year long effort to clear streets and right of ways of debris from the massive ice storms, at a cost of $1.3 million, much being funded by FEMA and other agencies. Hefley said the department obtained grants in the amount of $194,572 and have applied for others. In addition to the ice storm clean up, the street department also asphalted 8.7 miles of road, hot mixed 1.3 miles of road, obtained permits and dredged the river at Flathead Bridge, applied for more grants for 2010 and purchased a bucket truck, a skid steer and a chipper to help with debris work. The labor totals from all sources for 2009 was 24,386.35 hours, equipment hours were 40.488.50 and donated resources to the city accounted for 8,850.70 hours.
Hefley then moved to the Planning and Zoning Departments 2009 report. The department had a total of 438 permits issued including 329 residential remodels, three residential new, two commercial remodels, 38 HVAC and 58 septic. The total construction cost was $1,460,393 with permit fees costing $14,275. In addition to permits being issued, the planning and zoning department also completed five burnouts and removed four foundations. Code enforcement inspected 495 jobs, 416 of which were completed and received 434 complaints, mailed 499 letters issued 56 citations and made 1473 personal contacts, completing 436 of these. Following the departmental year end reports, council moved forward to correspondence.
A letter was received from the Sharp County Regional Airport Authority regarding the September air show, the letter also served as an invitation to the city to participate in the event and to help with funding with a possible suggested donation of $700. The letter also told council the airport authority was in the process of getting the man who landed the passenger aircraft in the Hudson River to be a speaker at the event.
In another letter to council, Kathi E. Blackwell thanked David Crayne and the city's street department for going above and beyond in their efforts to clear the streets during the February snow storm to allow emergency personnel to access her father who lives on East Miami. He was in need of emergency attention and the roads were in terrible condition so that ambulances were having trouble getting to their patients.
Next on the agenda was the department's monthly reports. Crook informed council that cameras were being installed and went forward with the animal control report. He said the Elks and a woman from Cherokee Village were going to be making an effort to help with cat and dog food at the shelter. He said there will be an Adopt-a-Thon March 26-27 at Walmart and a spay and neuter clinic was also slated for the month. Crook also reported that the gate entrance to the shelter had been moved further from the road. This will allow the fifth-wheel trailer used as the surgical unit by the veterinarian who performs the spay and neuters to have more room to straighten up before entering the premises. He also told council the shelter needs a larger breaker to accommodate the larger trailer.
Alderman Peter Martin then asked Crook when Ozark Acres contract with the shelter was up. City Attorney Jon Abele responded that the contract was set up so as to roll over unless council was to vote to cease its existence.
David Crayne followed with his Street and Road Department report. Crayne told council the city was still continuing with cleaning up from the flood damage. He said his department was currently cleaning up the closed burn site as required by the EPA. The department also put up 87 signs and the gate at the animal shelter during February. Crayne said the grant workers were currently working out very well. He said they are clearing right of ways using chain saws and chippers. The logs are then being taken to local sawmills. Crayne said in the eight days they had been working $2,100 worth of logs had been sold, making up for any fuel and equipment cost to the city.
Lynn Maxedon then gave the A Better Cherokee Village report. He said they are still collecting surveys, but the numbers are starting to slow down. He also offered the support of the ABCV committee to the air show. Abele cautioned Maxedon and the city to be sure they get something for their donation if they decide to donate. Following discussion, Alderman Martin and Verna Mae Newman suggested putting the potential contribution on the agenda for the next meeting.
In unfinished business, council read the 2010-5 revised ordinance for the first time. This ordinance establishes a base rate of salary for a newly elected mayor and city clerk/treasurer. The first reading was confirmed by unanimous vote in favor of the revised version.
The second reading of Ordinance 2020-A was then read. This ordinance was created to repeal ordinances 99-12 and 99-13 and regulating the discharge of firearms or archery tackle in the city. The ordinance brought discussion regarding bow fishing by Martin. Crook said he was of the opinion that when an arrow was attached to a line, it was considered fishing tackle, not a weapon. Crook advised Martin to contact someone to clarify this, perhaps a representative with Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. Council voted to approve the ordinance's second reading.
The hiring of a community service coordinator brought forth a lot of discussions regarding everything from hourly base pay to legal ramifications and insurance issues by council. The job would be created to help supervise workers who would be utilized to help pay fines owed the city. The workers would be approved by the judge prior to being allowed to work for the city in lieu of fine money. Charles Deloach, building inspector, proposed to council that the proposed community service manager Michael Eash would be paid $10 per hour for a 24 hour week for 26 weeks. Members of council also discussed paying $9.50 an hour for 40 hour week. Both Deloach and Crayne explained that he could be hired under the displaced worker program, which would pay for six months but the city must agree to hire the potential worker for an additional six months, for a year of total employment. Concerns over there not being enough work for 40 hours, the additional cost of insurance for a full-time employee, and the factor of whether or not the workers would have to have some sort of insurance in place when working for the city were all issues council seemed to have concerns with.
Discussion about the hours the worker would work, as well as a job description were also addressed. The hours and days worked were also issues with several members of the city council. Deloach and Crayne explained the program is a year long program and Deloach said, "His primary job is coordinator, he will decide what they will do, he will coordinate the workers." Deloach then referred to workers from last weeks court and told council that with the economy in a downward spiral, people will continue to not be able to pay their fines. He explained the workers were not hardened criminals, and contrasted the program with the very effective one used by Sharp County that has been in effect for many years. He said "We need it." Newman agreed saying the money was already budgeted.
A motion was made by Alderman Lynn Maxedon to hire Eash on a six month basis for 32 hours a week, Martin seconded the motion which did not carry on the vote.
A second motion was made by Newman to hire Eash for a 40 hour week for a year to utilize the displaced workers program, Alderman Ray Torbit seconded the motion and it carried with Alderman Martin, Maxedon, Billie Shelton and Tom Thone voting no.
The last item on the old business segment of the agenda was a proposed amendment to the 2009 Cherokee Village budget. The adjustment to be considered was adding $30,000 to compensate for what Administrative Assistant Terry Romans, said was compensation for extra taxes and the tax threshold changing. Discussion ensued about the topic. Alderman Tom Thone said a certified public accountant had told him that taxes haven't changed. Martin further added to the discussion stating that it was only the withholding that had changed rather than the actual tax rate. Roman's agreed, Martin said the employees would get the money back at the end of the year and further stated, "It is essentially giving another raise." At this point Torbit further stated, "Aren't we setting precedence that if the government decides to take more out, they will expect the city to compensate them?" Maxedon suggested watching the economy for six months then deciding on a raise if the economy improves. The discussion was tabled until the March 3 working meeting. Martin suggested to Romans that he provide council with a side by side comparison of the two withholding amounts.
Prior to adjournment the city council unanimously voted to approve two temporary Special Use Permits to the Cherokee Village Kiwanis Club who are fully insured. One of the permits was for the May 29 pancake breakfast and the other was for the Sept. 4 pancake breakfast. Both events will be held at the Cherokee Village City Hall.
The last item was the appointment of Jim Haney to the Road Committee and the approval of the cost of $1,490.66 to mail the natural gas agreements to all water customers in Cherokee Village. The money will come from the general fund.
The Cherokee Village City Council meets the third Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m. The meetings are held at Cherokee Village City Hall, the public is invited to attend.