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Highfill council passes budget

by Randy Moll | January 18, 2022 at 8:57 a.m.

HIGHFILL -- The city council in Highfill, at its Jan. 11 meeting, passed a 2022 budget, appointed a council member and planning commission member, and adopted a number of resolutions and ordinances.

The council began its legislative session by suspending the rules requiring that ordinances be read in full and passed on three separate readings. It then appointed Jack Loyd to fill the unexpired term for the council member representing Ward 3 in Position 2 and appointed Juan Montemayor to fill a vacancy on the city's planning commission after Mark Taylor's resignation.

Mayor Michelle Rieff said Jack Loyd, who had moved back to Highfill, was well qualified, having served as an educator for 31 years, including serving as Bentonville High School's principal. She said he had taught industrial arts.

Rieff said that Montemayor had moved to Highfill from West Texas and was eager to serve.

Council members Chris Holland and Justin Allen asked

whether the state statutes spelled out a procedure for filling vacancies on the council or commissions. Jay Williams, the city's attorney, said the statute only requires that the council appoint a replacement at its next regular meeting after the vacancy occurs. He said that a person could potentially resign on the afternoon before a meeting and the council would be required to appoint a replacement at that evening's meeting.

Holland and Allen asked that, in the future, the mayor post vacancies on the city's website as soon as possible to make sure that residents interested in serving have the opportunity to add their names and qualifications to the list of possible candidates. Rieff said she would do so.

Following a brief discussion regarding salaries of two positions, the council adopted a 2022 budget, as required by law. The combined budget projects incoming revenues of $3,920,982 and expenses of $3,920,877.96.

A 2021 budget amendment resolution was tabled until next month since final figures were not yet available at the Jan. 11 meeting.

A resolution increasing trash fees in the city to pass along the rate increase of the trash contractor was adopted. Rieff explained that she had intended to put out the city's trash service to bid but that the deadline for automatic renewal for five more years with the existing contractor passed. She did say that the city had only received one other bid and the company was not regarded as a reputable company.

The new fees will be $15 per month for one poly cart and $5 per month for each additional cart. Commercial dumpster rates now are $70 per month for a 2-yard dumpster, $140 for a 4-yard, $215 for a 6-yard and $280 for an 8-yard dumpster.

Ordinances were passed adjusting the fees for connection to Highfill's water and sewer services to cover the actual costs to the city. The new rates, available at city hall, are dependent on a number of factors. Non-state highway bore fees are also included in the ordinance.

Bore permit fees for crossing state highways were set by separate ordinance, with a base fee of $1,500 charged and then adjusted to the actual amount by billing or refunding the customer the difference. Up to $1,000 of the base fee is refundable.

The council established a separate bank account for the police department to hold funds that are required to be kept separate from other operating funds.

The council briefly discussed the Woodward Hills Subdivision and the city's requirement for an 8-inch waterline rather than a 6-inch line. Council members expressed their desire to stay with the 8-inch requirement unless it can be shown that the city had signed off on a smaller line, in which case, the city may have to cover the cost difference to upgrade to the needed 8-inch line -- approximately $68,000 according to information on the meeting agenda.

The council approved the financial report for December 2021.

Mayor Rieff reported that the appliances were to be delivered on Jan. 12 for the community building. She said some floor work remained to be completed before everything is done.

She also said she had been told the city would be receiving another $15,000 Community Development Grant for the community building project but the check had not yet arrived as of Jan. 11.

Rieff asked the council if it was interested in contracting with the Johanson Group for $7,000 to complete a job valuation and compensation study for the city which would include all 14 of the city's positions. The council asked for more information on the lasting value of the study -- whether it would be useful to the city for one year, five years, etc. Rieff said she would get the information and report back to the council next month.

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