Leader Blues

Thursday, July 27, 2006

TOP STORY>>Beebe will try again to annex area, double size

IN SHORT: Aldermen decided unanimously on Monday for another annexation referendum on the November ballot despite an earlier defeat by voters.

By JOAN MCCOY
Leader staff writer

Beebe City Council voted Monday night to try again for an annexation that would double the size of the city and at the same time give the city control of the growth that is already beginning outside its borders.

The proposal was defeated 382-346 during a special election last July after unsigned fliers that questioned whether the city should take on more territory when it sometimes has difficulty taking adequate care of what it has were distributed inside city limits.

This time, the annexation will be just one of many issues on the general election November ballot.

The vote was unanimous among the five council members present to place the annexation before voters inside the city and the proposed annexation area. Alderman Ronnie Dean was absent.

The ordinance promises police and fire protection to the proposed annexation area if voters approve the annexation.

Garbage service also would be provided as soon after the annexation as possible, but water, sewer and paved streets are not promised.

In addition to doubling the size of the city the annexation would add about 600 new residents and about $40,000 annually in state turn-back money.

The council also passed an ordinance that would keep the city from being forced to put shields on its street lights according to the Shielded Light Act of 2005.

Mayor Donald Ward told the council that if the ordinance was not passed by July 31, Entergy would begin systematically changing the existing lights for shielded lights.
Not only would changing the lights be expensive, Ward said he would rather the city maintain control of which areas are well-lighted and which are not.

At the request of Leonard Forte, the city’s code enforcement officer, the council is considering changes to the inspection fees for new construction. The existing fee structure is more than 20 years old. Forte told the council that every other city in the area charges more than Beebe. Searcy, for example, charges 20 cents a square foot, he said. He proposes charging half that amount.

The council took no action on the proposal. Forte, who took over from Allen Ridings, who was suspended in June after the state auditor started examining the city books, has been busy “cleaning up the town,” the mayor told the council.

Ward joked that the work of the code officer is even more thankless than that of the mayor and added that Forte is making some people mad by asking them to clean up.