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GRAVETTE -- Gravette city council members held their monthly Committee of the Whole meeting Thursday, Aug. 8, at city hall. Discussion was held on several items of business which will be on the agenda for the Aug. 22 city council meeting.

The only item of unfinished business was work on drafting a cell tower ordinance. Mayor Kurt Maddox reported the city was waiting on the Arkansas Municipal League update on such ordinances statewide.

Reports were heard from several department heads. David Keck, building inspector and code enforcement officer, displayed revised plans for the new Bank of Gravette drive-through showing the widened lanes. He reported he has been doing lots of inspections with 12 new homes going up in Walnut Ridge subdivision and said he is working on zoning ordinances.

Corey Reardon, water and sewer department head, reported the water line is all in at the new building at the high school and a pressure test has been done. Testing will not be completed by the time school starts but it will require shutting off only a small portion of the water system.

Police chief Chuck Skaggs reported 3,335 calls so far this year. He said a 40-hour instructor development class will be held in Gravette for both local officers and other area departments. A firearms instructor class, another mutual aid educational effort, is being planned for October.

Karen Benson, library manager, reported a jump in patron usage with 1,523 visitors to the library and 380 using the computers in July. The summer reading program for teens and adults ended July 31 with teens reporting 329 books read and adults reporting 358 books read. She reported a program sponsored by NWA Space on The Future of Space Exploration is planned for Tuesday, Aug. 20, and a kickoff for the STEAM@TheLibrary program for sixth through 12th graders will be held Friday, Aug. 23.

Tim Dewitt, streets and parks department head, reported workmen from DECO are in town doing paving on Main Street and paving will continue on Detroit Street, Eighth Avenue and Rocky Dell Road. The work is being financed through a state aid grant. Parks department workers have been busy preparing for Gravette Day.

Fire chief David Orr reported a total of 453 calls in 2019, about 61-62% of last year's calls. He said the department has been getting some good training, including a recent search and rescue simulation training at the old shelling plant and a couple of vehicle extrication classes in preparation for the Gravette Day car bash and vehicle extrication demonstration.

In new business council members considered maps showing proposed food truck zones in Gravette and in Hiwasse. With the success of current food trucks, inquiries are being received from other food truck operators. Mayor Maddox noted each would require a city business license and would be charged insurance if it were located on city property. Chief Orr commented they would also need a fire inspection. A brief discussion was held about setting rules for the appearance of such trucks. A vote on establishing zones for mobile food vendors will be on the agenda for the Aug. 22 city council meeting.

Council members considered specifications and pricing for a new vehicle for the water department. The bid of $26,985 from Lewis Ford Sales Inc. is for a Ford F-350 one ton crew cab with single rear-wheel drive. Corey Reardon said he would take the utility bed off a vehicle currently in use and put on the new truck. A vote on purchasing the vehicle will be on the Aug. 22 meeting agenda. Payment would be from the water reserve fund.

A resolution authorizing the mayor to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the Friends of the Gravette Public Library and a resolution approving several adjustments for the 2019 budget will be on the agenda for the Aug. 22 council meeting. Carl Rabey, city finance director, said the budget adjustments reflect several revenue increases including those from building permits and vendor permits, civic center rental and pool concession revenue. A large expense in the street fund was mainly for flood damage repair and Mayor Maddox said the city needs to develop a plan for dealing with future flood damage.

Carl Rabey presented the monthly financial report. He reported an $11,000 deficit in the general fund, mostly due to taxes having been paid. He reported the street fund showed a $4,000 profit and the water fund a $2,000 profit.

Rabey reported a $$96,000 deficit, mostly due to the transfer of the firemen's pension fund over to LOPFI. The city had a $30,000 to $35,000 profit if you disregard this transfer and "we're doing really good," he said. He also reported the city had been paying $33,000 in property tax but he has worked through the Arkansas Municipal League and got that reduced to $16,000.

General News on 08/14/2019

Print Headline: Gravette council members discuss agenda

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