The El Dorado City Council was to have plenty of business to tend to during their first meeting of the year; however, due to COVID-19, the in-person meeting has been cancelled.
Details are forthcoming about a potential virtual meeting or conference call.
The meeting was also to be the second the council has held since changing their regular meeting schedule to once a month.
Regular council meetings were previously held twice each month at 5:30 p.m. on the first Thursday after the first Monday of the month and again two weeks later.
Last fall, the council agreed to meet regularly once per month at 5 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month. The new schedule went into effect in December.
The council was expected to vote on the 2022 city budget today.
On Monday, the Finance Committee reviewed budget proposals from several city departments, including Mayor Veronica Smith-Creer's administrative department, the Department of Public Works and the El Dorado Water Utilities.
The committee hashed out a thorny issue regarding Smith-Creer's budget, homing in on the positions of city human resources director -- which has been held by Pierce Moore, formerly the mayor's administrative assistant, since mid-2020 -- and payroll clerk.
Council members called into question the salaries and duties/responsibilities of the positions, noting that the city contracted with local accounting firm Emrich & Scroggins in 2020 to act as city treasurer and to handle payroll duties for $5,000 and $3,000 per month, respectively.
The committee agreed to cut the HR director's $69,000 annual salary to $36,000 in the 2022 budget and to gather more information, including a job description and survey to assess HR directors' salaries in other Arkansas cities that are comparable in size to El Dorado.
Smith-Creer and Council Member Willie McGhee objected to the vote to decrease the HR director's salary, contending that the council should have spoken with Moore about the matter first to learn more about what his job entails.
Moore was unable to attend the Finance Committee meeting.
The mayor said the matter was on today's city council agenda for further discussion and to provide information that council members requested.
The council was also expected to hear from Brandon White, facilities manager for the El Dorado Municipal Auditorium, the city's two mobile stages and trolley bus -- all of which are available to rent to the public.
Smith-Creer said White would answer questions about the process by which the facilities are rented and other inquiries about the use of the auditorium -- topics that were also broached during the Finance Committee meeting Monday.
Under unfinished business on the council's agenda is the second reading of a proposed ordinance to rezone approximately five acres of land on the west side of town from an A-1 (agricultural/undeveloped) zone to R-1 (single-family residential) to make way for a residential development project that is spearheaded by Clifton Stringfellow, LLC
The property is just north of (behind) Stars Cinema 6 between Hollywood and Vine streets and adjacent to the existing Timber Hills subdivision.
The rezoning request was approved by the El Dorado Planning and Zoning Commission during a specially-called meeting on Oct. 27 and forwarded to the city council for consideration.
The council heard the first reading of the ordinance on Dec. 9.
More information about the Council's meeting plans will be provided as it becomes available.