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PRAIRIE GROVE -- The City Council didn't have enough votes Monday to increase its own pay or to compensate Planning Commission members for their service.

The council voted 5-3 to "suspend the rules and read the ordinance by title only," but the motion needed one more vote to pass and suspend the rules.

A council member could have then made a second motion to read the entire 1½-page proposal and place it on first reading, but no one stepped forward to do that.

After the meeting, City Attorney Stephen Parker said the proposal will be on the council's Feb. 17 agenda.

Money for a raise for council members and to compensate planning commissioners was approved as part of the 2020 budget, but both require a separate ordinance.

The proposal would pay council members $100 for attending meetings. Now, council members receive $50. For 2019, the city paid $5,000 for council compensation.

Planners would receive $50 for attending each meeting. Commission members don't receive anything now.

If a council member also is on the Planning Commission, that person would receive $50 for attending each commission meeting. Presently, City Council member Brea Gragg also serves on the commission.

City council members Gragg, Tony Cunningham, Doug Bartholomew, Rick Clayton and Doug Stumbaugh voted for the motion. Council members Rick Ault, Ray Carson and Marquita Smith voted against.

Ault said he voted against the proposal from a "perspective of timing and priority." He said he believes the increase is valid when comparing Prairie Grove's compensation for council members with other cities but didn't believe it was the right time to move forward on it.

"There could be other priorities for the money," Ault said.

The compensation for planning commissions is not as consistent in other cities, Ault said. Some receive stipends. In other cities, commissioners do not receive a stipend.

In other action, the council amended the 2019 budget to show actual revenue and expenditures for the year.

For the general fund, the city projected about $2.4 million in revenue and brought in $2.36 million. Expenses were projected at $2,442,595. The city spent $2,405,801 out of the general fund.

For water and sewer, the amended budget shows revenue increased from a projected $2.9 million to $3,155,264. Expenses increased from $2.8 million to actual expenses of $2.9 million.

NW News on 01/26/2020

Print Headline: Proposal to increase City Council pay delayed until February

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