Council approves $40,000 settlement in civil suit

Thursday, January 31, 2019

The city of Eureka Springs has reached a $40,000 settlement in a civil lawsuit after the owner of a round house on Main Street said a nearby shed decreased the property value.

On Monday night, the Eureka Springs City Council heard from attorney Tom Kleklack about the settlement. Kleklack described the terms of the settlement, saying the city must pay fellow defendants Josh Cook and Becky Gillette $40,000. The shed must be removed down to the subspace within 120 days, Kleklack said, requiring Cook and Gillette to apply for a permit to do so.

“All the claims against everyone will be dismissed,” Kleklack said. “No fault will be admitted to the owner of the shed. Any other building … on that property will have to comply with HDC guidelines and planning commission and building codes.”

Alderman Bob Thomas moved to approve the settlement and authorize Mayor Butch Berry to execute any documents needed to complete the process. The motion passed 4-2, with Thomas,Terry McClung, Susan Harman and Harry Meyer voting yes and Melissa Greene and Mickey Schneider voting no.

The council moved on to discuss the proposed 2019 budget. Thomas asked finance director Lonnie Clark if the budget has changed since the council saw it last, and Clark said he added $60,000 in revenue to provide Eureka Springs School District with a school resource officer. Clark said he initially forgot to budget the revenue because it’s the first year the city has had such an arrangement with the school district.

“It just was one of those things. It’s the first year we’ve had it,” Clark said.

Clark said he also added $10,000 to pay for costs associated with economic development, and Berry said it’s important to have that in the budget.

“Economic development needs to have money for internet, advertising and also publication,” Berry said. “I think we need to have an area to see where the money is being spent.”

Thomas said he’d like to add another $50,000 expense to the budget to help remodel The Auditorium for city meetings and events.

“Almost a year ago, this council voted to remodel the downstairs to make it accessible for meetings,” Thomas said. “I’ve been going to Fayetteville and I’ve seen whole buildings built in that year. People have been telling me, ‘This is not going to happen. This is not going to happen.’ “

He continued, “I don’t know why it can’t happen. I’d like to add $50,000 to this year’s budget to begin remodeling in the downstairs of the Auditorium.”

Thomas moved to approve the budget with those three changes, and the council unanimously agreed to do so.

The council heard from city attorney Tim Weaver about last-minute changes to a proposed ordinance for collection of expenditures for cleanup. Weaver said the council needed to remove two citations to Title 18 in the proposed ordinance.

“What’s going on here is we used an ordinance to create this from another municipality in the state,” Weaver said, “and when we go back and check these citations, there’s been some change, apparently, to the state code. Liens are no longer in that title.”

The council voted 5-1 to approve the ordinance on a third and final reading with the changes.

In other business, the council approved a resolution accepting a state sidewalk grant. Berry said the city has been approved for the grant to complete the sidewalks from the top of Planer Hill to the Eureka Springs Community Center. Berry said the state will kick in $200,000 for the project, with the city providing matching funds of $50,000.

“We’re going to be able to start on the sidewalks and have that completed, so that will be great news,” Berry said.

Also at the meeting, the council approved a 3 percent rate increase for Carroll County Solid Waste, appointed Ferguson Stewart to the planning commission and approved the City Advertising and Promotion Commission’s appointment of James Devito to Position 2. The council agreed to vacate an alley between Midway and Benton streets and voted 4-2 to revoke an ordinance saying council members can serve on city commissions, with the exception of the CAPC.

The council’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 11, at The Auditorium.

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