A debate over water department funding was the biggest issue at the recent Clinton City Council meeting held Thursday, June 8. Other matters were the planned turnover of the animal shelter to a private group - in the works since late last year.
The water department issue came from current department head Dickie Hink authorizing a budget line-item to provide for the department’s master plan. Acting, or rather lack of action, on the 10 year master plan had been brought up at recent council meetings, at the last leading to a funding apportionment to begin repairs in critical areas. These repairs, improvements to the Honey Hills subdivision and the repair of sewer lines at the supermarket parking lot, were funded at the last council meeting.
Hink explained to the council that after checking with Arkansas Municipal League requirements, a line-item moving $800,000 from the city’s general fund to its water department fund. Here confusion began as the council worked through the funding being a transfer of cash to the water department, or an accounting issue. Hink explained the request was an accounting requirement, not the transfer of cash to the department, but a request for an accounting entry which he needed honored so he could begin the preparations for forthcoming 10 year master plan projects, such as improvements to the Poll Yard pumping station.
With some debate the matter passed, 3-2, with Council members Hastings and Bradley voting “no.” (Councilman Tim Barnes was absent.) This led to a post-meeting debate between Bradley and Hink where Hink expressed concern about support for the water department, and Bradley concern about too loose a control on spending.
“I was afraid if you put it all in the bank he’d spend it,” Bradley said later.
Lori Treat with SNYP Arkansas, the not-for-profit taking over the animal shelter July 1, presented to the board her plans going forward. Plans include the addition of an operating room in order to spay animals on-site, as well as fund-raising events to be held going forward. With this the council agreed to forward it’s agreed-upon funding of $17,500 for the shelter during the transition, the balance of its Jan. 1 agreed-upon $35,000 total.
In other Clinton City Council matters:Fire Chief D.L. Webb said he planned on having before the council next month the proposal for a 0.025 sales tax to fund the department. The proposal would require a special election and as such needs a 75 day period for consideration prior to being put up for vote.Treat, during her presentation, said she expected to raise adoption costs for dogs and cats. She also said the animal shelter is in great need for volunteers.The police wrote 79 speeding tickets the previous month. Chief John Willoughby also said the department had issues with “outlaw street racers” going down a nearby hill. (A reference to the Soap Box Derby race being held in conjunction with Archey Fest.)The water department was the majority of Highway 65S easements done for the widening project there. The shopping center project is expected to start this week, and the department has begun changing out manholes, first with one at Walker Street for flood control. (The manholes are being funded from the depreciation fund, Hink said.)Tim Clark in his role as Zoning Head said he had been contacted by a Florida company interested in putting a medical marijuana dispensary in Clinton.Jessica Crabtree with Economic Development presented progress on the city business license - an ordinance passed in May - and forthcoming state investment in billboards advertising lake-area vacations.