Lepanto City Council approves board members, discusses financial issues at meeting

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Tribune News Staff

In a short meeting Monday night, the Lepanto City Council voted to approve the appointment of two Lepanto residents to a local board and discussed the possibility of instituting a half-cent sales tax in the community to pay for dispatchers at the police department.

In the meeting, held at the Lepanto District Courtroom, the council discussed the possibility of placing the half-cent sales tax increase onto the Nov. 2004 ballot, which would maintain dispatchers at the Lepanto Police Department. In the discussion, the council heard from council member Charles Farley, who placed a motion before the council that the sales tax increase would go exclusively to paying for the dispatchers, which has become a thorny issue in the city in recent months.

Both Lepanto Mayor Dale Dunlap and council member Terry Kemp told the council that placing the motion before the council at this time could be ill-advised. Dunlap stated that the city could come up with something else and that it could be reworded and that issues like street improvement could be more important for the city.

Kemp told the group that many of the people that he has spoken with in Lepanto are against it, but added, "We need one, but not for this." Dunlap noted that the people of Lepanto could be open to having the tax if they are told upfront what is going on and the money goes to where it is intended. A possible compromise on the issue was discussed, with monies going to the General Operations Fund for the city and then being dispersed to pay for the dispatchers.

Farley later withdrew his motion, but told the council, "You can't have fingers in your ears. You won't know until you try."

In other action, the council:

* voted 8-0 to appoint Vickie Barnett and Wanda Hendrix to the Lepanto Wee Care Board of Directors. In a related topic, the council heard from Barnett, who asked the council and city to help with writing a letter for the Wee Care, in support of getting a $250,000 grant for the facility. If the facility gets the grant, they plan to build another building on land next to the existing facility, which will allow the facility to add children to their program.

* Voted 8-0 to approve the minutes and financial statement for the month of Feb. 2004.

* Discussed ways to recognize the accomplishment of the East Poinsett County senior boys basketball team in winning the Class AAA State Basketball Title last weekend. The team defeated Osceola 77-45 to capture the school's second state basketball title in school history. Among the ideas discussed placing signs at both ends of Lepanto, honoring not only the boys championship, but the 1995 girls championship team and state tennis championships in the last 12 years.

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