Council OKs mid-year budget adjustment

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Eureka Springs City Council is keeping an eye on the budget.

On Monday night, the council approved a resolution for the mid-year budget adjustments. The budget includes adjustments for the general fund, street fund, water/sewer and transit fund. Berry updated the council on how the budget is doing, saying there’s good news and bad news.

“The department heads in our departments are doing a great job of keeping their expenses down,” Berry said. “The bad news is our revenues are down.”

So far this year, Berry said, the city has a deficit of $75,000.

“Compared to where we were in the past, we’re doing pretty good,” Berry said.

Also at the meeting, alderman Bob Thomas said he had concerns about a grant to develop a trail at Dairy Hollow. The trail didn’t work out, Thomas said, so the parks commission decided to use the grant for a trail around the perimeter of the community center. With the community center being a private entity, Thomas said, it could be problematic for the city.

“If the council authorized the mayor to spend this money on the Dairy Hollow trail, the mayor couldn’t really authorize expenditures at the community center, could he?” Thomas asked.

City attorney Tim Weaver said it would depend on the terms of the grant.

“Whether the grant was made to the city or the parks department, I don’t know. I haven’t seen the grant application, nor have I seen the grant itself,” Weaver said.

Berry said it would be good if representatives from the parks commission could address the issue in person and suggested that the council defer the subject until that could happen.

“I don’t think it’s fair to make any judgments without having their input here,” Berry said.

“I agree with that, and I also totally understand what Mr. Thomas’ questions are,” alderman David Mitchell said. “If we put a 20 percent local match and the community center is a private entity, it’s a big concern of mine.”

Thomas moved to defer the topic, and the council unanimously agreed to do so.

Also at the meeting, Berry updated the council on potential permanent meeting spaces. Berry handed out a blueprint for the doctor’s office across from the Eureka Springs Hospital and the fire station across from City Hall, saying both locations are being considered. It would cost around $25,000 to move to the doctor’s office, Berry said, while it could cost around $20,000 to renovate the fire station. The fire station is close enough to City Hall, he said, that meetings could continue to be live-streamed with no moving costs.

Thomas moved to meet at both locations starting at 4 p.m. Monday, Sept. 11, to get an idea of what the buildings are like. The council voted unanimously to approve the motion.

The council moved on to discuss its upcoming Nov. 13 meeting, with alderwoman Kristi Kendrick asking if the meeting could be pushed back a week.

“I would like to ask for the courtesy of the rest of the council to consider rescheduling such meeting,” Kendrick said.

Kendrick said she would be out of town, and so would the mayor’s assistant, Kim Stryker. Alderwoman Mickey Schneider asked Kendrick why she made the request.

“Because we’re on our way for a trip. We’d like to leave the afternoon of that meeting, so that we don’t have to attend that meeting,” Kendrick said.

“Why don’t you just miss a meeting like you had to last time because you were sick?” Schneider said. “I mean, we all miss a meeting once or twice a year.”

“I simply asked for a courtesy,” Kendrick said.

“I asked if there was a reason,” Schneider said.

“Yes, because I am taking a trip and Kim Stryker is taking a trip,” Kendrick said. “I don’t mind missing the meeting, but Kim may.”

Thomas said he didn’t want to change the date of the meeting.

“I think it’s bad precedent for anybody to start trying to adjust council meetings,” Thomas said. “I think council meetings should be set. If we don’t have a quorum, we just won’t have a meeting.”

The council’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 11, at City Hall.

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