Council revokes decision to move city meetings to community center

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

It looks as if the Eureka Springs City

Council won’t be moving its meetings to

the Eureka Springs Community Center after

all.

On Monday night, the council heard

from Mayor Butch Berry about the proposed

lease agreement between the city

and the Eureka Springs Community Center

Foundation. The council voted Nov. 13

to move all city meetings to the community

center, located at the old high school

site at 44 Kingshighway. Berry said Monday

night the lease agreement was between

lawyers.

Alderman David Mitchell moved to suspend

all engagement with the foundation

until the city could conduct an in-depth

due diligence on the foundation’s articles

of incorporation, lease with the school district

and financial information regarding

all income sources and detailed expenses.

“Why?” alderman Terry McClung

asked. “What’s your fear?”

“I don’t have a fear,” Mitchell said.

“What I have is any time I’ve ever conducted

business with a private entity, I’ve

always done a due diligence assessment

of everything about that entity. I think the

city should do an extreme due diligence of

what is going on as far as the community

center foundation, from its inception to its

finances, and we should have a legal review.

It’s not fear. It’s just good business.”

Alderwoman Melissa Greene agreed,

saying she’s heard concerns from constituents

about the foundation’s finances.

“I feel like David is … what he made is

a prudent suggestion,” Greene said.

McClung said he liked the foundation’s

proposal. It’s not a long-term deal, Mc-

Clung said, but it doesn’t have to be.

“They offered us a pretty good deal on

the front end,” McClung said. “I’m good

with it. It’s that easy.”

Mitchell said other options, like the

building on Norris Street or the fire station

downtown, wouldn’t cost the city anything

in rent because the city owns those

structures.

“I’m going to stress the point that entering

a negotiation with the foundation,

putting in money, leases and moving to

something we don’t own and have to share

when we’re sitting here in a building we

own with minimal expenses and everything

… I think should be considered very

well,” Mitchell said. “I don’t think we

should enter a negotiation with an entity

that we really, truthfully don’t know that it

is a viable entity.”

He continued, “There’s a lot of unknown

and I feel we should step back and

suspend our action at this point in time until

we have done a complete due diligence

of that organization.”’

Alderman Bob Thomas agreed and

moved to amend Mitchell’s motion to revoke

the council’s Nov. 13 vote to move

to the community center. The council

voted, with Kendrick, Thomas, Mitchell

and Green voting in favor of it and Mc-

Clung voting against it. McClung asked

if the council would vote to revoke the

vote, saying that was just an amendment

to Mitchell’s motion.

“That didn’t finalize anything, I don’t

think,” McClung said.

Kendrick suggested that Mitchell withdraw

his motion, and Berry said the council

already voted on the motion by voting

for the amendment. McClung said that

vote was on the amendment to Mitchell’s

motion, not the motion itself.

“How about we get a motion not to

move to the community center?” Berry

said.

“I make a motion that we revoke our

vote in …” Kendrick said.

“No, no, that’s done,” city clerk Ann

Armstrong said.

“OK, I make a motion that at this point

in time we do not pursue a lease with the

Eureka Springs Community Center Foundation,”

Kendrick said.

Mitchell said he wanted to be sure the

council was voting on the motion correctly.

“The only question that’s left is what

happens to my original motion that we

never voted on,” Mitchell said. “So why

can’t I just withdraw it and the second and

it’s OK?”

“Because you don’t need to,” Armstrong

said.

“Why wouldn’t he?” McClung said.

“Because what we did on Bob’s deal was

an amendment to the motion.”

By approving the amendment, Kendrick

said, the council approved the amended

motion. Berry agreed.

“That’s not what was stated,” McClung

said. “That’s what you stated now, but

that’s not the way it was presented.”

The council agreed to vote on Mitchell’s

amended motion, with Mitchell, Kendrick,

Greene and Thomas voting in favor

of it and McClung voting against it.

On Tuesday afternoon, Eureka Springs

Community Center Foundation chairwoman

Diane Murphy said the foundation

is frustrated with the council’s decision.

“We are extremely disappointed in the

city council, their lack of communication

with the board and their seeming disregard

for all of the constituents that want access

to the meetings, that have spoken in favor

of moving them to the community center

and that have financially supported the

community center,” Murphy said.

The foundation has had more than 500

donors, Murphy said, including individuals

and businesses in Eureka Springs.

“All of them have donated because the

concept of a community and the community

center matters to them,” Murphy said.

“We’ll move forward. There’s no decisions

we have made that are dependent on

the city council, so we continue with what

we’re doing.”

The community meeting room is in the

process of being renovated, Murphy said,

and should be completed and ready for use

by March.

Also at the meeting, the council voted

to discontinue showing the council meetings

on Youtube. McClung said it cost too

much to edit closed captioning on the videos.

“The time and expense of sitting down

and transcribing for the closed captioning

… it’s just an expensive process,” Mc-

Clung said.

The council also approved a resolution

adopting the city’s budget for 2018 and

agreed to draw up an ordinance detailing

the water and sewer bond payment schedule.

The council’s next regular meeting is

scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 22, at

The Auditorium.

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