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New council prepares for a "wet" Cherokee Village

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Photos by Kyle Mooty The 2013 Cherokee Village City Council: (standing, from left) Bill Circle, Curtis Bratcher, Tom Thome, Jerry Adams, (seated) Lee Covington, Verna Mae Newman, Linda O'Neal, and Pamela Rowland.
The Cherokee Village City Council had a different look at its first meeting of 2013, with first-time members taking their seats on the eight-person council. The four new aldermen jumped right into the fray with several issues discussed at the Jan. 24 meeting.

The new members include Pamela Rowland, Bill Circle, Lee Covington and Linda O'Neal. They join existing members Tom Thome, Curtis Bratcher, Verna Mae Newman and Jerry Adams.

Among issues facing Cherokee Village this year will be the sale of alcohol following the November vote to make Sharp County "wet."

An ordinance establishing regulations, requirements and restrictions on the sale of alcoholic beverages was presented to the council.

City Attorney Jon Abele told the council that it could set fees for permits and private licenses, charging up to half of what the state (Alcohol Beverage Control) charges. The state charges $850 for package store permits, $1,500 for private club permits and $350 for restaurant permits.

As for sales tax, the city can only charge half of 1 percent of the sales from beer and wine. Abele noted that all other details are regulated by the state.

The only place that can sell liquor by the drink is a private club.

"There's not going to be a whole bunch of additional money just because the county is now wet," Abele said.

Mayor Lloyd Hefley said that no one had applied for a package store license. Those will not be available until July 1.

An amendment was made to the existing zoning code to allow drive-throughs for future liquor stores.

The ordinance passed unanimously after being read three times.

In other business:

It was presented to the council to eliminate a mandatory 10 percent be left in the fire department's reserve funds because emergency funds come from the general fund anyway.

"Our revenues have gone down," Fire Chief Mike Taylor said. "Hopefully, they'll come back, but we don't have enough funds at it is."

City Clerk/Treasurer Lana Hamilton said meeting pay roll for the fire department was tough enough without having to make sure 10 percent was left in reserves.

Newman said that using the general fund for the fire department falls under an emergency. "I would say that bad financial times (makes this) an emergency."

It would have taken two-thirds of a council vote to eliminate the reserve fund, and the council voted 4-4, with Bratcher, Covington, O'Neal and Thome voting against the elimination.

Newman was chosen as the Mayor Pro Tem. She would serve as acting mayor should Mayor Lloyd Hefley be unable to attend a meeting or be away from the office for any reason.

The 2013 budget was tabled again due to more questions. "It's not a balanced budget," said Alderman Thome. "We can't pass this anyway."

Alderman O'Neal attended an Arkansas Municipal League conference for new council members recently at Little Rock.

O'Neal noted that small cities serve special niches, and believe Cherokee Village has things that are indigenous to the area.

"We just need to bring everybody together," O'Neal said.

Alderman Adams added, "A great way to do that is to come to our planning and promotion committee meetings."

O'Neal also said the conference stressed that civility matters while serving on the city council, and "We can agree to disagree."

Newman presented a plaque to Hefley where he was recognized as a Certified Municipal Official from the Arkansas Municipal League for completing 21 hours of certified municipal training.

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