Monday, September 10, 2007

TOP STORY >>State sends $205,000 back to Jacksonville

Leader staff writer

Jacksonville has received a $205,000 check from the state and may use it to develop a farmers market.

The money is a return of part of the state’s $800 million surplus from last year. The state legislature opted to give some of the extra funds back to cities—about $6.75 per person—to use as needed.

“This is one-time money,” Mayor Tommy Swaim told the city council Thursday night, “and cannot be spent on reoccurring expenses.”

Swaim told the council that some possibilities that have been suggested include developing a farmer’s market, expanding the parking lot for the municipal court, improving park landscaping, building a bridge in Dupree Park or an extra fire siren for the fire department.

The idea of the farmer’s market received the most enthusiasm from the council, although no action was taken.

The mayor said the bridge would cost too much, and the fire department said the siren would be good to have, but that the city is currently covered. The council will continue to discuss its options at its next meeting. Sherwood, which is receiving about $145,000, is looking at using the money to replace and update its storm sirens.

In other council business:

Aldermen agreed to waive competitive bidding for the installation of an electric ventilation system at the Jacksonville Community Center. The city wants to hire Howell Utilities of Little Rock because the firm has worked on the building before.
The council voted to spend $51,000 to purchase a diesel tractor with a boom loader.

Aldermen passed a resolution “expressing a willingness of the city to utilize federal aid monies” in the construction of a Stonewall Park walking and jogging trail.

The resolution was necessary for the city to obtain a federal grant for the project. The grant requires the city to cover 20 percent of the cost. The total cost of the project was not listed in the resolution.

The council passed a resolution that gives a tax break to the AGL Corp., 2202 Redmond Road.

The resolution endorses the company’s participation in the tax-back program in exchange for expanding its local operations.
In his monthly report to the council, Fire Chief John Vanderhoof said his department responded to 95 rescue calls, 36 still alarms, 24 general alarms and had 191 am-bulance runs during July.

He said estimated fire loss for the month was $13,000, while fire savings was placed at $217,000.

In its monthly report, the engineering department said it issued 29 building permits and 10 business licenses during August. The department also performed more than 300 inspections and sent out nearly 500 letters to residents and businesses for trashy or unkempt yards.