El Dorado News

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November 17, 2017
El Dorado News Times
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News-Times

City Council to address Christmas bonus concerns

By Tia Lyons
This article was published November 9, 2017 at 5:00 a.m.

As the city nears the end of a yearlong budget crunch, and with news that 2018 projections are taking on a similar look, city officials said questions have begun swirling about whether city employees will receive Christmas bonuses this year.

Those questions will be answered when aldermen convene for a regular meeting at 5:30 p.m. in the Council Chamber of City Hall.

The city council finance committee will meet 30 minutes earlier to review 2018 capital improvement requests from city departments.

The police and fire departments submitted their capital improvement proposals during a finance committee meeting earlier this week.

Robert Edmonds, director of public works, said then that the proposed capital improvement budget for his department was still a work in progress, and he would submit it “over the next couple of days.”

With the $1 million revenue shortfall in the city’s 2017 general fund, the finance committee initially suspended capital improvement spending for the year.

Mid-year, the committee — and later, the city council — cautiously allowed for the purchase of two new cars for the police department to replace wrecked patrol units and a new rear-loading garbage truck for the sanitation department.

The truck, which replaced an 11-year-old model with more than 100,000 miles, was covered by the sanitation budget.

On Monday, Police Chief Billy White submitted a capital request for five new vehicles — four sedans and an SUV — for 2018. The total was $193,800.

Fire Chief Chad Mosby warned city officials about sticker shock before presenting an $820,000 proposal for capital purchases.

Mosby explained that the majority of the request — $650,000 — was for a new rescue pumper truck.

He said the truck would replace a 26-year-old fire engine and include additional compartment space to store equipment.

“It will have some equipment that will come with it as well. It will be mission-specific. We have outgrown the truck we currently have. We’ve got it stuffed in every nook and cranny,” Mosby said.

The remainder of the budget request was for three cardiac monitors — $110,000 — and $60,000 to replace aging Personal Protective Equipment, the fire chief explained.

Finance committee members also asked Mosby to re-label a couple of line items to clarify and consolidate similar designations for machinery, equipment and miscellaneous funds.

Bonuses

Holiday bonuses for city employees were also a topic of discussion on Monday.

The finance committee agreed then to submit a total proposal of $113,656.30, including payroll taxes, for the consideration of the full council.

Full-time employees and elected officials are eligible for the bonuses.

City Treasurer Bonnie Wyles prepared the proposal for the bonuses, keeping the same tiered pay schedule the council followed in 2016: $50 for employees who have been with the city for up to six months; $100 for six months to a year; $200 for one to two years; $250 for three to four years; $500 for five to seven years; $750 for eight to nine years; and $1,000 for 10-plus years.

On Monday, Alderwo man Dianne Hammond, who heads up the finance committee, asked city department heads if the money was available in their budgets, and each said yes.

Funding for holiday bonuses is pulled from funding that is available in the budgets of each department — police, fire and public works — in the fourth quarter of the year.

Other business

The council will also consider a proposal to remove the traffic light at the intersection of College and Faulkner.

Edmonds said the daily traffic count, particularly on Failkner, does not warrant a traffic signal at the intersection.

He said 8,000 vehicles pass along College each day, and 1,200 head east and west on Faulkner.

Edmonds proposed installing stop signs at the intersection for east-west traffic.

Also on the council’s agenda for today is the reappointment of Barry Bagwell to the El Dorado Advertising and Promotion Commission.

Bagwell’s term expired on October. The commission last met in June.

Commissioners elected 2018 officers during a meeting Tuesday, asking Bagwell to remain as vice-chairman.

Bagwell said he may have to step down before his new term expires, if it is approved by the council, but he would accept the position with that understanding.

A&P commissioners serve four-year terms.

Hammond and Commissioner Sanjay Patel were re-elected as chairman and treasurer, respectively.

Tia Lyons may be contacted at 870-862-6611 or tlyons@eldoradonews.com.

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