GRAVETTE -- The City Council, at it's regular meeting July 23 heard from Jennifer Fagan, manager of municipal sales for Republic Trash Services.
She said the company normally asks for a 2.9% increase July 1 but, this year it is asking for an additional 1.1% which will amount to $10.42 or an increase of 11 cents per household.
Fagan said the request is being made because with more people staying at home, the amount of residential waste picked up the last few months has been up 30%, which means more trips to the landfill and more hours, up to an additional 28 hours per month. There's also an additional cost for sanitizing trucks, and she said some predictions indicate it will be two years before this trend changes.
Mayor Kurt Maddox said the city had seen an initial increase in household discards also, as people cleaned their houses and yards, but the increase has slowed considerably in the last 30 days. He said commercial customers are already commenting they're paying the highest rates they've ever encountered.
Phagan asked if the city would be willing to take over billing commercial customers rather than Republic billing them. Maddox said the matter would be placed on the agenda for the August Committee of the Whole meeting.
The council authorized Maddox to apply for a 50/50 grant from the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism's Outdoor Recreation Grant Program. Grant money would be used to develop recreational facilities in Kindley Park.
The council declared as surplus a heavy-duty equipment trailer and closed a capital improvement vehicle depreciation bank account. Money in the account will be transferred to the sales and use tax account in the capital improvement fund.
In other business, council members voted to issue a permit to Rox Radio Group to build a wireless radio tower at 1200 First Ave. S.E. The tower was approved by the Planning Commission and the property is already zoned C-2 commercial.
Council members voted to accept a proposal from the Elizabeth Richardson Center to develop the old Presbyterian Church as a location for providing services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The city will rent the building to the center for $1 a year and give it two six-month renewable periods in which to raise money for the project.
Council members rezoned property at 13855 Holloway Road in Hiwasse owned by Luther and Jessica Pike from A-1 agricultural to R-1 single family residential. The owners intend to build a new home on the property.
Council members voted to buy a 2020 Ram 2500 Tradesman 4x4 crew cab for the Fire Department. The purchase price with added equipment will be $34,329. Also approved was buying a 2020 Chevrolet Tahoe with a police upgrade for the Police Department. The purchase price will be $44,837.
Council members voted to approve appointments to the Planning Commission of Michael Deniston as a member and Natalie Singh as an alternate.
They also accepted the resignation of Ashley Harris from the City Council and from the Planning Commission. Ashley and her family are moving to Bentonville.
Maddox thanked Ashley Harris for her service to the city and wished her well in her future endeavors. Councilmember Jeff Davis also thanked Harris for her service, saying he felt she had been an asset to the city through her service on the council, on the Planning Commission, and in the Lions Club, and that she will be missed.
Harris thanked the council for giving her the opportunity to serve and said it had been an honor and a pleasure to do so.
Finance director Carl Rabey said there had been no changes in the financial report since the July 9 Committee of the Whole meeting. He reminded council members that budget adjustments would now be done quarterly.
Council member Margo Thomas asked if any progress had been made discouraging speeding on streets in residential areas. Maddox said that the Police Department had stopped one of the worst offenders and, since that time, most drivers seemed to be abiding by the rules. However, the department is preparing some material for consideration by the council.
Thomas said traffic hadn't slowed during the night in her neighborhood, and Maddox said the new noise ordinance recently passed should help with that.