Leader Blues

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

TOP STORY >> Raises proposed in Beebe

By JOAN MCCOY
Leader staff writer

Beebe Mayor Donald Ward presented a $2.7 million budget to the city council Monday night that contains the first pay raise for city employees in three years.

Ward is asking the city council to give employees a 5 percent raise at a cost to the city of about $47,000.

At the urging of Alderman Ron-nie Dean, the council agreed to meet at 6:30 p.m., Monday, Dec. 12, to discuss the budget, which by state law must be passed by Feb. 1.

The projected revenue does not include anything from water and sewer, which is run by a commission and is completely separate from the city. It does include more than $500,000 in a savings account that has been set aside for emergencies. Ward said during a break in the meeting that he is opposed to spending the money for city projects when it could possibly be needed for salaries if expenses increased unexpectedly.

Projected revenue for the general fund which supports the mayor’s office, parks, fire, police and the city cemetery is $1.6 million. The major income sources are county property tax, $41,000; county sales and use tax, $556,200; state turnback, $80,800; city sales and use tax $651,990, and franchise tax, $187,100.

The city also is estimated to receive $275,800 next year from the state as turnback from the gasoline tax that is collected, but that money may only be used by the street department.

The budget for the police department is the largest in the city. Revenue from fines and other sources is estimated at $36,960 while expenditures are estimated at $722,895.

Of that amount, $18,450 would pay the lease on four new patrol cars.
Ward told the council that the maintenance on the old cars about equaled the lease on new ones.
The parks department also consumes much more than it generates.

The projected revenue from such sources as concessions, gate fees and registration fees is $79,700.
The projected cost of running the department next year is $219,730.

Beebe’s fire department is currently run by volunteers except for the paid part-time fire chief. But the department is still a big expense to the city which pays insurance for all the firefighters and buys and maintains the equipment.

The projected revenue for the department from membership fees and other sources is $17,700 while the estimated cost of running the department in 2006 is $185,970.