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The El Dorado City Council will have several new faces, including one in the mayor’s chair, when it convenes today for its first regular meeting of the year.

With Mayor Veronica Smith-Creer at the helm, council members will meet at 5:30 p.m. in the Council Chamber of City Hall.

It will also be the inaugural meeting for new council members Andre Rucks and Paul Choate, who represent Ward 3, Position 2, and Ward 4, Position 1, respectively.

The first order of business on the council’s agenda will be to address an issue stemming from a recent change in the city’s personnel policy.

On Dec. 20, the council took the recommendation of its finance committee to scrap compensatory time for city employees.

Council members also voted to dip into the city’s reserve coffers to pay off comp time that had accrued in lieu of overtime pay.

The buyout came to $192,560.66 total for the city — $140,636 for the police department; $12,641.14 for the fire department; a total of $35,083.71 for the public works department (street and parks); and $4,198.80 for administration.

The new personnel policy went into effect Jan. 1, along with another new policy that amended provisions for paid, annual leave days for non-uniformed employees.

The following day, Smith-Creer reported for her first day of work and City Hall staffers explained then that they had used comp time to rotate lunch shifts in order to serve the public during the noon hour.

Previously, City Hall employees were not available for work between noon and 1 p.m. as they took their lunch breaks — which posed an inconvenience for residents who attempted to conduct business during that time.

City officials addressed the issue several years ago, asking that employees set up a rotation schedule so that at least one City Hall employee could assist citizens during the lunch hour.

In her first official email as mayor, Smith-Creer asked council members how they wanted to address the matter.

The council is also expected to act on administrative matters, including adopting operating rules for 2019 council meetings, electing a president pro tempore to preside over council meetings in the mayor’s stead and consider resolutions recognizing the service of former Mayor Frank Hash and former council members Mary McAdams and George Calloway Jr, all of whose terms expired Dec. 31.

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

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