Leader Blues

Friday, December 12, 2008

TOP STORY > >Lonoke looking at slightly lower budget for 2009

By JOHN HOFHEIMER
Leader senior staff writer

The Lonoke City Council has ap-proved a tentative 2009 operating budget of $5,330,327, down from $5,382,941 this year, according to Treasurer Walls McCrary.

That’s a decrease of about $52,000, he said Monday, attributable to managers of all departments working to hold costs down in an uncertain economy. The final budget will be approved in January.

Former Lonoke County Clerk Prudie Perceful will take over McCrary’s position effective Jan. 1.

McCrary, a Democrat, is stepping down to become District 15 state representative. In November, he beat Republican Doug Hatcher and independent Trent Eilts to take the seat of Lenville Evans. Evans was ineligible because of term limits.

The operating budget includes funds for city administration, the municipal court, fire department, parks department, mosquito control, water, sewer and street department, the community center, industrial development and retail development, McCrary said.

At McCrary’s suggestion, thecouncil also raised the salary of the mayor from $25,000 to $27,500 next year and $30,000 the following year. The council members’ pay was raised from $1,250 to $1,550 next year and $1,850 by the following year.
In other action, the council authorized Water, Sewer and Street Supervisor Keith Whitworth to spend as much as $54,000 for a pair of trucks.

The council also deferred again any action on fixing the roof of the Pet Quarters building, which it owns. It also did not act on an offer to tear the building down for $52,000. Instead the city will have one or more appraisers place a current sale value on the building and then try hard to sell it.

It’s rented to Laster and Laster, which builds hitches for semi-trailers, through mid-spring.

The city also tabled a motion to take responsibility for maintaining a Kerr Community sewer system, saying the maintenance costs would far outweigh the revenue that came with it.

That community is about 15 miles away, and while a grant is available, the town’s first sewer system and pipe could be put into Lonoke for treatment.

Each of the 160 customers in that community would have a separate grinder pump, which councilman Pat Howell said was certain to break and need to be repaired at the city’s expense. Currently they cost about $400 each. Also, the addition of the community would probably require hiring a full-time employee.

In other action, A-Line painting of Lonoke won the contract to repair the roof at the city shop for $8,600. It’s a liquid roof repair with a five-year warranty.