Wednesday, September 13, 2006

TOP STORY >>Cabot count will kick off in November

Leader staff writer

Workers for a special census that will be underway by mid-November in Cabot could be headquartered in the old Community Bank building beside city hall that the city plans to buy. The special census will cost about $300,000 and is expected to bring in about that much in additional state revenue every year for the next three years until the regular census is completed in 2010. Metroplan estimates that the city’s population has grown 41.4 percent, from 15,261 to 21,575, since the Karen Davis, director of operations for the city, said she has been instructed by the U.S. Census Bureau to find 150 applicants to fill 50 to 60 positions.

Applicants must be at least 18 years old with a valid driver’s license and access to reliable transportation. The census should be completed in three to five weeks. Workers will be paid $9.75 to $10.75 an hour for mostly evening and weekend work.
Davis said although the hope is that all the applications will be in by Sept. 29 so testing can begin the first week of October, realistically some will probably be hired later.

Testing will be held in the city annex, but if the Census Bureau says the bank building meets its security requirements, it could be the headquarters for the counting. The city is leasing the bank building for $3,500 a month with the option of buying it after five or 10 years. The bank offered to sell the building to the city for $1.1 million.

Since the city has opted to lease it instead, the lease money will go toward the purchase price. If the city leases for five years the purchase price will be $890,000. After 10 years of leasing the purchase price would be $678,000. The council passed a resolution in June giving Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh and clerk-treasurer Marva Verker authority to negotiate the purchase of the building.

Stumbaugh told the council Monday night during a special council meeting that the city will begin leasing the building Oct. 1.
As part of the negotiations, the bank will continue to use about one-third of the building for up to 10 months while a new building is under construction on Main Street and will sublease the space at the old building from the city for $1,218 a month. Dickson Flake, who negotiated the deal between the bank and the city, told the council that Tracy French, the bank’s chief executive officer, should receive the credit for the city getting the building under market value.
“He’s really extended himself personally,” Flake said.

Stumbaugh also spoke briefly about the lease-to-own arrangement the city is entering into with the bank. “It’s almost like borrowing money with no interest,” he said. The bank building will eventually be used for city offices which will allow the police department to expand out of the basement at city hall. But Stumbaugh, who is running for Congress in the First District, told the council he doesn’t intend to move his office this year.

The new mayor will get the new office, he said. Verkler also said she doesn’t plan to move this year. The bank building will need to be remodeled before city workers move in, she said. Davis said applications to work on the census may be picked up at city hall in Cabot or downloaded from the city’s website at Davis said she is asking the Cabot Chamber of Commerce, local churches, ASU-Beebe and the unemployment office in Jacksonville to help get the word out that census workers are needed.