City waives fees for Habitat for Humanity

City em­ploy­ees get merit checks

The Times (Northeast Benton County) - - FRONT PAGE - AN­NETTE BEARD [email protected]

A Habitat for Humanity house is be­ing con­structed in town and city of­fi­cials agreed to waive the im­pact fees for the build­ing dur­ing the reg­u­lar City Coun­cil meet­ing Nov. 20.

“This will of­fer low-cost hous­ing to peo­ple who have pulled them­selves out of their sit­u­a­tions that are not good and get­ting their lives back on track,” Phillip Fink with Habitat for Humanity told city of­fi­cials. The con­struc­tion is funded “through do­na­tions, gifts, con­trac­tors do­nat­ing their times … so we can of­fer more af­ford­able hous­ing. In the in­ter­est of that, I would like to ask that the im­pact fee be waived for the pro­ject we’re start­ing now, and what­ever other fees you’d like to do in the kind­ness of your heart.”

Build­ing of­fi­cial Tony Townsend said the im­pact fees on the three new ones and one house “re­ha­bil­i­tated” on Smith Street had been waived pre­vi­ously. “They’re do­ing one on Pace Lane,” he said, adding that they will try to build a lot split if they

get a sewer ease­ment.

The three coun­cil mem­bers present — Steve Guthrie, Ray Easley and Bob Cot­ting­ham — all voted in fa­vor of the rec­om­men­da­tion.

Two or­di­nances were ap­proved con­cern­ing the po­si­tion of the elected po­si­tion of City Clerk. Or­di­nance No. 623 was ap­proved “pro­vid­ing that Sandy But­ton, city clerk trea­surer, may con­tinue to serve as a city em­ployee dur­ing her term in of­fice” and Ord. No. 622 “pre­scrib­ing the salary of the city clerk trea­surer” for $200 per reg­u­lar and spe­cial meet­ing at­tended.

City at­tor­ney Shane Perry ex­plained that it had been brought to his at­ten­tion that a state statute pro­hibits a city em­ployee from hold­ing an elected po­si­tion un­less a city has a spe­cific or­di­nance al­low­ing it.

“This is to bring the city into statutory com­pli­ance… one of the statutes re­quires a coun­cil vote,” Perry ex­plained. He said that the state statute re­quires that when a city em­ployee also holds an elected po­si­tion, it is nec­es­sary to set a ceil­ing on their salary. “We dis­cov­ered we were out of statutory com­pli­ance.”

Or­di­nance No. 623 stated: “Sandy has been elected City Clerk Trea­surer of the City of Pea Ridge and … has been em­ployed by the city as chief court clerk since 1977, and said po­si­tion has in­cluded of­fice man­age­ment re­spon­si­bil­i­ties for over twenty (20) years, and … to lose the ser­vices of Sandy But­ton in the po­si­tion would cre­ate a hard­ship by de­priv­ing the city of her knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence, and it would be in the best in­ter­est of the pub­lic to al­low Sandy But­ton to re­tain her cur­rent em­ploy­ment with the city… Sandy But­ton … is hereby au­tho­rized to hold em­ploy­ment with the City of Pea Ridge as chief court clerk which in­cludes the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of of­fi­cer man­ager… shall be paid no more than … $6,000 per month in con­sid­er­a­tion for said em­ploy­ment.”

The or­di­nance was ap­proved with the emergency clause, mak­ing it in ef­fect im­me­di­ately.

Perry said the salary was not an in­crease, but set a ceil­ing on the salary.

“If Sandy But­ton is re­elected and if salary ap­proaches this ceil­ing be­cause of COLA ad­just­ments, it would have to be re­con­sid­ered,” he said.

City of­fi­cials ap­proved the pur­chase of a 2018 Ram 1500 four-wheel drive reg­u­lar cab pickup truck for the city build­ing of­fi­cial for $20,336 and agreed to trans­fer a 2013 Chevro­let Sil­ver­ado pickup truck from the In­spec­tion Depart­ment to the Street Depart­ment for $10,000. Street Depart­ment su­per­in­ten­dent Nathan See said the money is in the bud­get.

“We’re trans­fer­ring the 2013 to the Street Depart­ment and then pur­chase the 2018 for Tony’s (Townsend) in­spec­tion truck,” See said.

“That way we can keep the miles down on it and make it last longer,” Mayor Jackie Crab­tree said.

Two fi­nan­cial is­sues brought be­fore the coun­cil, the city bud­get and end of year merit awards for city em­ploy­ees, were ap­proved by a de­cid­ing vote from the mayor. On each re­quest, al­der­man Bob Cot­ting­ham ab­stained while two coun­cil mem­bers voted yes. Cot­ting­ham had asked that the pas­sage of the bud­get be tabled for fur­ther re­view by both the fourth coun­cil mem­ber and the two new coun­cil mem­bers to take of­fice in Jan­uary. On the end of year, merit awards, coun­cil mem­ber Ray Easley said: “We’ve been telling peo­ple we’re short on money. That puts us be­tween a rock and a hard place,” be­fore se­cond­ing the mo­tion by Steve Guthrie. The pay was the same as last year.

“I agree with Ray, I’ll ab­stain,” Cot­ting­ham said.

The em­ployee end-ofyear merit awards of $500 per full-time em­ployee and $250 per part-time em­ployee were ap­proved. The city has 40 full-time em­ploy­ees and six to eight part-time em­ploy­ees, ac­cord­ing to But­ton.

In other busi­ness, the coun­cil:

• Ap­proved the pay for the City Coun­cil and Plan­ning Com­mis­sion mem­bers at $200 and $175 per meet­ing at­tended, the same as for last year; and

• Set the date for the De­cem­ber City Coun­cil mem­ber for Thurs­day, Dec. 27.

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