The Salem City Council met in regular session on Thursday, July 22. Mayor Gary Clayton gave the council an update on all of the current grant applications made by the city, including the sewer rehabilitation project discussed at June's meeting.
"We submitted an application for $486,210 to do a sewer and manhole rehab program," said Clayton. According to the mayor, the project will replace approximately a mile of sewer line from the Preacher Roe Ballpark into town along the creek. It will also replace 18 of the city's manhole covers. The project includes reinforcing the levy and oxidation ponds with clay along with any other additional improvements needed there.
"This pre-application had to go through the state's Water and Waste Water advisory committee to see that it conformed to their regulations," said Clayton. "It has done that and as of July 8 they have approved it to proceed as a full application, so we have cleared that first hurdle. I have talked with the engineers and they are getting everything else ready for us to get that submitted, hopefully in the next week or so."
Last month, the council discussed a grant for a new breathalyzer for the police department. "The USDA application for the breath alcohol testing equipment, has not been submitted yet," said Clayton. "I had to go back and do some rewriting on it because the funding formula was changed. It's about ready to go now and we'll get that sent in the next few days."
Clayton mentioned that the city also has a department of finance and administration grant application in the amount of $2,393 for law enforcement which has been turned in.
"The only other application we have out is the solid waste management grant that we sent out earlier in the year for the dump truck. I have not heard anything on it yet, but we should hear something on it anytime now."
Looking at the budget, Clayton reviewed the sales tax revenues and pointed out that although the amounts are lower than last year, because of good budget planning, the city was actually on track for the year.
"Of course our sales tax is down about S14,000 for the first six months of the year compared to last year; however, as I have said before, when I created this year's budget, I allowed for that and our receipts are outpacing the budget," said Clayton. "In other words, we are getting in more than we projected we would get, even though it is down from the comparable period last year."
"On general funds, expenditures ran about $14,000 over revenue. The reason for that is we had two major payments this month which totaled about $19,000. One of them was for the FEMA renovation project on the city park, which was paid for with grant money. The other was the payoff on the Cotter House (located at the Fairgrounds), which we paid a little extra on this month in order to pay it in full. We will still have the insurance on it, but no monthly payment."
Clayton asked all of the department heads to keep a close eye on their line items on the budget, to ensure the city continues doing well through the last half of the year.
In department reports, Fire Chief Heath Everett had taken ill earlier in the day from the heat and was unable to attend the meeting. Clayton expressed his concern over the lack of Act 833 funds received by the city and expressed his desire for Everett to find out what the hold up is.
According to the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management Web site, Act 833 provides ½ of 1 percent of all turn back funds from fire insurance premiums to be divided among the 75 counties in Arkansas, according to population. Act 833 funds are to be used for training, fire fighting equipment and initial capital construction or improvements of fire departments.
Clayton also expressed concern over the lack of dog registrations following the enactment of the revised Dog Ordinance last month.
"Because we made that ordinance change, I've given everybody through August to get into compliance," said Police Chief Albert Roork. "Starting in September, we'll write tickets."
For the month of June, Roork stated that the Police Department had handled eight automobile accidents and 79 complaints in the past month.
"We had one attempted fraud that occurred down at the Dollar General and was unsuccessful," said Roork. "We had two thefts, which were pretty good ones. We had a couple of thefts that occurred where money, a deposit, was stolen. We have had two dog bites in the last few weeks, one yesterday and one a couple of weeks ago. We had a shop lifting and six domestic disputes."
Bill Worsham with Public Works reported that the Water Department had repaired 10 leaks and one fire hydrant and made one new connect to the system. Waste Water Department cleaned 4,700 feet of line and had to deal with the waste water plant going "belly up" again.
"We're not sure what did it," said Worsham. "A lot of things will kill the bugs there -- fertilizer, floor stripper, a meth lab."
The Street Department has been busy cutting the right of way back to the Weathers addition, brush hogging and weed eating around town and repairing pot holes. "We're working at the park on the east side, so we can help with the drainage out there," said Worsham. "We have a lot of springs out there, and from the road to the ditch is just a slew. We are finishing up the riprap at the city park spillway. It will cost us a little bit more money but I feel we need to do it. We'll have it done by the first of next week."
Clayton then informed the council about the new beacon installed at the city airport. 90 percent of the $5,000 cost was paid for with a grant from the state and the remaining 10 percent was paid for by the airport commission out of their funds. "Its a state of the art LED lighting system," said Clayton. "We've had an old one out there for a long time, and it worked on occasion, but it was a full-time job keeping the light bulbs changed in it. This new system will use a whole lot less electricity and we won't have to worry about changing bulbs."
The council then passed an ordinance abandoning a portion of an unnamed street in the Weathers addition, which was discussed at the June meeting.
The council members then discussed several properties around town that are not being kept up by their owners and the mayor said he would follow up with those property owners and follow the guidelines of the city ordinance governing the issue, including sending notice letters to the owners.
With that, council adjourned. The next scheduled meeting of the Salem City Council will be Thursday, Aug. 26 at 7 p.m. at City Hall. The public is welcome to attend.