Tuesday, June 21, 2011

TOP STORY >> Cabot council buys lot

Leader staff writer

Over the objections of one alderman, the Cabot City Council voted Monday night to offer $12,000 for a small vacant lot behind the community center to use for future expansion of the center.

Alderman Patrick Hutton questioned almost everything about the proposed transaction.

He asked why no legal description of the property was included in the resolution to allow Mayor Bill Cypert to make the offer to purchase. He wanted to know where the money to buy it would come from since it wasn’t in the 2011 budget, and he wanted to know if the city had advertised for professional services before getting an appraiser to set the value of the property.

Alderman Rick Prentice didn’t question the validity of the questions, but he did tell Hutton that if the city waits, someone else might buy the vacant lot, especially considering that its availability has been made public in The Leader.

“It’s pretty essential that we buy this property. It’s directly behind the community center,” Prentice said.

Mayor Bill Cypert reminded the council that he couldn’t act until they did.

“I don’t have the authority to deal with this unless we pass this resolution,” Cypert said.

Hutton’s questions were answered but apparently not to his satisfaction. He was the only council member to vote against the city buying the lot.

City Attorney Jim Taylor told him the legal description of the property would be included on the purchase agreement if the deal goes through. Clerk-Treasurer Tammy Yocom and the mayor told him the money for the purchase would come from the capital reserve fund, and the mayor said he didn’t advertise for professional services before hiring an appraiser because he was not aware at that time that a 2003 city ordinance required him to do so.

Hutton contended that if the city council voted to spend an unbudgeted $12,000 on a vacant lot, it should at the same time pass a resolution amending the budget.

Alderman Ed Long agreed, saying that’s what the council had done in the past. Long also said he was concerned that it is now time to begin work on the 2012 budget and the council has not yet ratified the budget for 2010. With that not done, it’s impossible to know where the city stands financially, he said.

Yocom, who is in her first year as clerk-treasurer, responded that she will have the budget ready for the personnel-and-budget committee to review in July so the council can approve it at the regular July meeting.

Long said that might not be enough time.

“Whenever you start rushing money, you start making mistakes,” he said.

The council unanimously passed a resolution asking the Navy to name a small warship for the city of Cabot.

The mayor said he supported the proposal because it would give the city national recognition.

Alderman Kevin Davis jokingly asked if the city would be liable or responsible in any way for a ship bearing its name.

“Are we going to have to repaint it or scrape it or anything?” Davis asked.

The council rescinded a 42-year-old ordinance that allowed the burning of household wastes which is in violation of a 1997 state law.

The mayor also recognized firefighters and police officers for their efforts at raising money for worthy causes.

A team of Cabot firefighters in full gear climbed 78 flights of stairs at the Metropolitan Bank building in Little Rock to come in first place in a fundraiser for the American Lung Society. The team finished 20 minutes ahead of the second-place winners and raised $800.

Working together at two separate fundraisers, police officers and firefighters raised $9,300 for Special Olympics.