City Council authorizes mayor to amend solid-waste contract

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Carroll County Solid Waste customers in Eureka Springs will likely soon see an increase on their bills.

The Eureka Springs City Council voted to give Mayor Butch Berry the authority to amend the current contract with Carroll County Solid Waste to include a fuel surcharge that will go in affect when diesel prices increase enough to greatly surpass the budgeted cost.

The vote at Monday’s city council meeting came after Berryville Mayor Tim McKinney, who also serves as the board chairman of Carroll County Solid Waste, told the council about how the cost of fuel is negatively impacting the budget.

Tim Mckinney

“Our goal is not to make a profit, it is to provide a service,” McKinney said. “And we always budget very tight because of that … fuel, it’s killing us. Our options are to come and ask you for a rate increase or, what we would like to do is ask the cities to amend the [contract] to put a fuel surcharge on.”

The Carroll County Solid Waste board is scheduled to discuss the topic at its meeting Thursday, May 12. McKinney, who said the Berryville City Council has already authorized him to approve the surcharge, said cities in the county will then be presented specific language for the amended contract.

“The Carroll County Solid Waste Board is going to meet Thursday to discuss this and go ahead and adopt it,” McKinney told the council. “We’re going to have to do that or we’re going to start asking for some rate increases. But what the city of Berryville did after laying it out to them, they voted to go ahead and give me the authorization to sign the contract once Carroll County Solid Waste gets it ready, as long as it falls within the parameter of what I presented to them.

“There is a real urgency on this. We’re at the point now where we’ve got to get the surcharge and go on or we’ve got to initiate some rate increase request. I don’t mean that as a threat at all, I’m just saying that’s where we’re at financially. When you budget tightly, and you run anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000 a month over [budget] on one item … we’ve got to do something pretty quick.”

McKinney said the surcharge would fluctuate from customer to customer based on the amount of waste. He gave an example, “a two-bag customer would pay 61 cents.”

The surcharge will only go into effect if gas prices substantially outpace what is budgeted each year.

“Granny Smith with one bag of trash doesn’t need to pay as big of a surcharge as Tyson does,” he said. “So, what we did, we went to a percentage [formula].

“And if we budget right the surcharge never would kick in. If we budget $3 a gallon [and gas] stays $3 or $2.95 or $3.10, [the surcharge] never kicks in.”

Carroll County Solid Waste spent $47,589 on diesel fuel in March, $10,410 more than the budgeted amount, McKinney told the council, pointing out that the landfill that is used is in west Tontitown.

“All we’re trying to do is recoup our money and do it fairly through all of our customers,” McKinney said.

In other council business, a resolution was presented to the council authorizing Berry to apply for a Transportation Alternative Program Grant. The grant, if awarded, would be used to install a five-foot wide sidewalk on the east side of West Van Buren from Nelson’s Chapel northbound to Crockett Street and the Eureka Springs Community Center.

The grant would give $80,880 for the project with the city matching $20,220, for a project total of $101,100.

The council also discussed whether council members should be allowed to use electronic devices during meetings.

Council member Harry Meyer said he felt that when cell phones are used during meetings it’s a violation of the open meetings rule.

“If I’m texting somebody while I’m sitting here at the table, somebody that’s at the table or somebody that’s elsewhere, we’re violating the open meetings rules,” Meyer said. “So, I think it’s a good idea that we institute no electronic devices at the table. Now, if we need to look something up or something, we can authorize someone to get on the laptop or whatever and look something up.”

Council member Terry McClung disagreed.

“You know, quite often things at this table are not so technical … if my kids want to send me something about a ballgame or something like that, I’m capable of carrying on two things like that at a time,” McClung said. “I don’t see the big deal. If I’m not trusted enough to sit at this table and be honorable, then I don’t need to be here.

“I think it’s an infringement on our integrity. I’m not sitting in fourth-grade class at this table.”

Council member Melissa Greene said she agreed with Meyer and reminded the council that electronic communication among council members could be subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

“I was at the [City Advertising and Promotion Commission] meeting last week and I watched someone in the audience and someone at the table, and it was pretty obvious they were texting each other,” Greene said. “And that is a violation to me. Or passing notes is, you know, everything’s supposed to be out in the open and we keep using this word ‘transparent.’

“Sometimes we do need to look up stuff, but we don’t need to be texting information back and forth.”

Council member Nick Roberts said he’s never noticed anything during meetings that’s deserving of any action on the topic.

“I was kind of surprised by this because I haven’t noticed any back and forth or anyone being disconnected from the meetings for that,” Roberts said. “So, I don’t know what kind of an issue it is here. I don’t know if we need to really address it.

“It’s just the code of ethics of what we’re supposed to do and what we’re not supposed to do. But that’s why I just leave my phone in my pocket.”

Another topic that resulted in no action was discussing the public comment portion of each meeting. Currently once a meeting starts, no one is allowed to sign up to speak during public comments.

“I don’t think a person should be cut off big because they didn’t make it here by 6 p.m.,” McClung said. “As long as [public] comments are open, they should be able to sign up. As soon as [Berry] says, ‘That’s it, we’re done,’ then it’s done.”

Greene disagreed, saying she felt there is nothing wrong with the way public comments are currently regulated.

“For 20 years we’ve had this process, and I’m a big proponent of public comments because I think our public should have the right, but it is a privilege,” she said. “And, you know if people can’t be here by [6 p.m.] and sign up, I’m sorry. We’re doing our meeting and they can come in and be here at a minute till six and still sign up. I don’t think we should change anything.”

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  • I agree, it shouldn't lose money and have taxpayers come to the rescue, but; everyone is feeling the pinch of everything going up in price. Low income and fixed incomes are those hardest hit....why! Could it be the wrong people were elected, and this issue will remain as long as people keep voting as they have.

    -- Posted by Concerned Person on Thu, May 19, 2022, at 3:02 PM
  • Oh how I miss the Trump economy.

    -- Posted by rockpilefarmer on Sun, May 22, 2022, at 10:41 AM
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