Marked Tree Council passes 2017 budget

Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Marked Tree City Council passed a resolution adopting a proposed budget for 2017. The budget estimates total revenue at $2,619,955 and total expenditures at $2,452,505.

The main budget discussion concerned salaries. Mayor Mary Ann Arnold told the council that supervisors would evaluate their employees--with the mayor evaluating supervisors--and raises would be proposed based on those evaluations. She said raises would not be more than three percent. Alderman Cleo Johnson, Jr., asked about raises for the city council and made a motion to raise the council's pay from $40 a month to $100 a month. Before the vote, Alderman Gail Nichols said that amount was too much. Two aldermen were absent from the meeting--Steve Craig and Jason Gilbert--and two abstained from voting--Danny Johnson and Mack Rhoads. The vote failed 2-2 with Cleo Johnson and Jerry Jones for and Gail Nichols and Soozi Williams against. After the vote, Danny Johnson said he believed the entire council should be present to make the decision, and City Clerk Pam Wright said the council could always amend the budget later.

After approving the budget, the council turned to Christmas bonuses for city employees. Last year, the council voted in favor of bonuses of different amounts based on years of service starting at $100 for less than one year and going all the way up to $500 for 25 years or more. Alderman Danny Johnson said he didn't agree with it. "To me, it's to show appreciation. It shouldn't be based on years served," he said. He suggested bonuses should be $300 for full-time workers and $150 for part-time workers. The council approved his suggestion 4-2.

The council also heard from Tom Rhoads regarding the burned out trailer on Brigance Avenue. Rhoads wanted to know what the city is doing about condemning it since the owner has died, there is no insurance, and the investigation into the fire is complete. "What's it going to take to get this property torn down?" Rhoads said. "This is the only way in to a multi-million dollar ballpark."

Police Chief Michael Matlock said he had looked into the situation after speaking with the mayor. He explained that before the city can take action, they need to post a public notice and get in contact with the family members to give them the opportunity to take over the property since the owner had no will in place. Matlock said he would contact the state investigator to get phone numbers for the owner's sisters.

Mayor Arnold told Rhoads, "We're all aware of the issue. We're working on it. This is something that takes time." Rhoads responded by saying the situation was not being handled in a timely manner and suggested the council look into the code enforcement officer and either get her the resources she needs or find someone else for the position.

In other business, the council:

*approved an ordinance waiving competitive bidding for the pumping station at 104 Elm Street.

*approved a resolution authorizing a contract with St. Bernards Village as operator of the senior center for audit purposes.

*approved a resolution establishing a fixed asset policy for audit purposes.

*approved an ordinance waiving competitive bidding and a resolution authorizing a lease-purchase agreement for wireless radios for city departments.

*approved hiring Anquion Williams as a patrolman.

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