City coun­cil dis­cusses salaries, po­lice ve­hi­cles

The Weekly Vista - - Front Page - KEITH BRYANT kbryant@nwadg.com

The Bella Vista City Coun­cil lis­tened to po­lice chief James Graves dis­cuss new equip­ment ac­qui­si­tions and salaries for elected of­fi­cials dur­ing its work ses­sion Mon­day, May 14.

The coun­cil looked at a res­o­lu­tion to set salaries for the mayor, city clerk and city coun­cil mem­bers.

The pro­posed salaries in­clude $8,000 an­nu­ally for city coun­cil mem­bers, $15,000 for the city clerk and $89,612 an­nu­ally for the Mayor from July 1 to the end of the year, in­creas­ing to $97,161 an­nu­ally start­ing Jan. 1, 2019.

Mayor Peter Christie said the city up­dates th­ese salaries every two years, but he wanted to do it early this year so peo­ple who might be in­ter­ested in run­ning for city coun­cil can know what their com­pen­sa­tion will look like be­fore they sign up.

Th­ese num­bers were based on a re­port pre­pared by Hu­man

Re­sources di­rec­tor Melissa Cruise. Cruise wrote that the city clerk po­si­tion, which puts in roughly 30 hours per week, is cur­rently mak­ing less than min­i­mum wage at $9,126 an­nu­ally, which equates to $8.77 per hour.

The mayor’s cur­rent wage, ac­cord­ing to the re­port, cur­rently sits at $82,064, 31 per­cent be­low the $118,581 av­er­age for the re­gion and 5.5 per­cent be­low the $86,870 av­er­age salary for may­ors in sim­i­larly-sized towns.

Coun­cil mem­bers cur­rently re­ceive a $6,331 stipend, ac­cord­ing to the re­port, which places the pay 21 per­cent be­low the av­er­age for sim­i­larly-sized cities in Ar­kan­sas.

The coun­cil also heard from Graves, who said he is in­ter­ested in ac­quir­ing some equip­ment.

Graves told the coun­cil that the po­lice de­part­ment is par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Law En­force­ment Sup­port Of­fice, or LESO pro­gram, which pro­vides ex­cess De­part­ment of De­fense equip­ment to po­lice de­part­ments at no charge.

The de­part­ment has ac­quired some equip­ment, he said, in­clud­ing a gen­er­a­tor that will be used in the ev­i­dence build­ing and a 30-pas­sen­ger bus.

“You never know what

you’re go­ing to get,” he said.

The catch, he said, is that while the po­lice de­part­ment may use this equip­ment to sup­port other agen­cies, like the fire de­part­ment, th­ese items have to re­main po­lice equip­ment.

Ad­di­tion­ally, he said, there’s no way to know what kind of con­di­tion some­thing is in un­til the de­part­ment gets it, though the pro­gram doesn’t typ­i­cally pro­vide po­lice with junk. So while the items may be free, there could be main­te­nance costs.

More­over, he ex­plained, there are two classes of equip­ment a de­part­ment may ac­quire: un­con­trolled and con­trolled. Un­con­trolled equip­ment, he

said, must be kept for a full year, but if it isn’t work­ing out for the de­part­ment it can be put up for auc­tion after this first year.

Con­trolled equip­ment, he said, must be sur­ren­dered back to the LESO pro­gram if the de­part­ment de­cides not to keep it.

And be­cause he wants to pur­sue some con­trolled equip­ment, Graves said he needs to ad­vise the coun­cil. In par­tic­u­lar, he said, he’d like to ob­tain two Humvees and an MRAP, or Mine-Re­sis­tant Am­bush Pro­tected truck.

“There’s a lot of thoughts whether or not de­part­ments should have items like th­ese,” he said.

The Humvees could be help­ful in icy con­di­tions

and flood res­cues as well as get­ting po­lice and fire­fight­ers across rough ter­rain, he said, while the MRAP is es­sen­tially a large ar­mored truck that could pro­vide cover and safe evac­u­a­tion of of­fi­cers and civil­ians in a shoot­ing sit­u­a­tion.

“So let’s be ready, and hope­fully it’ll never hap­pen here.”

The coun­cil also dis­cussed cre­at­ing a tree ad­vi­sory board, a pro­gram where Cooper stu­dents de­signed prospec­tive city flags, re­peal­ing an or­di­nance against so­lic­i­ta­tion from per­sons driv­ing mo­tor ve­hi­cles, pur­chas­ing a truck for a new build­ing in­spec­tor and al­low­ing play­ground equip­ment in front yards.

The po­lice de­part­ment is par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Law En­force­ment Sup­port Of­fice pro­gram. James Graves Po­lice Chief

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