Friday, January 07, 2011

TOP STORY > >Budget approved in Beebe for 2011

Leader staff writer

The Beebe City Council approved a $3.1 million budget on Monday during a special meeting. The city expects $3.5 million in revenue, but is charting a conservative financial plan.

Aldermen also approved 3 percent raises for city employees.

Mayor Mike Robertson’s salary was raised from $25,096 to $38,000. City Clerk/Treasurer Carol Crump-Westergren’s salary will increase from $34,502 to $37,000 and Milton McCullar, head of the street department, will see his pay go up from $28,420 to $35,000.

During the discussion of the mayor’s raise, Alderman Harold Welch said, “You earned it.”

Alderman Les Cossey said the mayor does not use a city-issued cell phone or vehicle.

“You put the city first. You deserve everything we give you. You have done a great job. You have the city’s interest at heart,” Alderman Linda Anthony said.

Robertson has refused any salary increases in the past.

Three city employees received special pay raises.

First responder Rick Johnson was hired as a full-time firefighter. He will be paid $12.50 an hour.

Charles Finley, the manager of the work-release program for residents to pay off fines, was given a raise last month. His hourly wage will go from $8.62 to $10.40.

Hunter Collie, who became full-time fire fighter in December, is being paid about $10.50 an hour.

The mayor told the council that the city expects census figures to show a population increase of 2,000. The growth will give the city $120,000 in additional revenue every year.

The mayor would like to use the money toward repairing and repaving Idaho Street to Main Street and South Apple Street to Campground Road.

He proposed having the county work on the ditches along Idaho Street to improve drainage. Idaho Street was paved with chip-and-seal in the mid-1990s.

The council would like to improve the appearance of the city’s police force.

“I would be leery if someone pulled me over not wearing a uniform,” Alderman Lightfoot said.

He said officers on patrol need to be in full uniform instead of blue jeans, tennis shoes and a T-shirt.

The council approved a measure requiring officers to at least wear an embroidered polo shirt. They also agreed that the city should pay for officers’ equipment except for their boots and their guns.

Those two items are the responsibility of the officers. The department has 10 full-time officers and five part-time officers.

The city council also wants to know when part-time officers who serve papers and warrants are moved to patrolling the streets. Patrol officers must be approved by the city council, and not transferred to the position by the police department.

City parks were another budget topic.

The mayor asked about replacing the infield of the city’s largest baseball field from donafill to grass.

Cossey suggested adding a practice field to the baseball park.

He also spoke in support of building a new youth football field near the city’s swimming pool and the freeway.

The current football field is only 80 yards long. Some aldermen suggested using the high school’s football field, but according to Crump-Westergren, the school district does not want to share its football field.