May 19, 2011 by wcobserver
Full Time Employees Receive Retirement Benefits
By Susan McCarthy
GREENLAND- Residents will see much of Wilson Street resurfaced in coming months after city officials authorized the city’s engineer to begin bidding the project that is estimated to cost $83,000. At its Monday night meeting, city officials also approved retirement benefits for full time employees and accepted the resignation of Council Member Carroll Hancock. No decision was made about allowing single family dwellings to be built on property in C-3 zones.
City Officials unanimously voted to begin the bidding process to resurface Wilson Street from Napier Street to the stoplight on Main Street. Ryan Gill, Project Engineer for McClelland Engineering said he estimates costs to make repairs and resurface that stretch of Wilson Street will cost about $83,000. He said he researched applying a sealant over the asphalt, but large cracks on Wilson Street prevent it from being a good solution.
“Wilson Street is a major thoroughfare and it’s a mess,” said Council Member Stephanie Sharp who voiced support for the project.
Mayor Bill Groom urged his council to move forward with the project now and said that the city has the money to make the repairs and will be recouping the expenditure in August when the one-cent sales tax is diverted back to the city’s operating fund. He said Wilson Street was resurfaced 11 years ago.
After some discussion, it was agreed that the project will be bid in two phases so that the needed repairs at the railroad crossing could be completed at the same time.
City Adds Benefits, Temporary Employee
City council members also addressed several personnel issues Monday night including adding retirement benefits for full time employees, adding a part-time maintenance employee over the summer months and giving a raise to the city’s court clerk.
Sharp, who also serves as head of the city’s personnel committee said she had surveyed area cities and found Greenland to be the only small city to not offer retirement benefits. Sharp recommended adding retirement benefits at about $6,500 per year for its three full-time employees under the Arkansas Public Employees Retirement. She said employees participating in the retirement program would be required to contribute five percent of their salary; the city would pay 12.46 percent of each employee’s salary per year.
“I just think it’s the right thing to do,” said Council Member Danny Dutton ahead of a unanimous vote to approve the benefit.
Future full time employees of the city would be required to wait one year before they could participate in the program.
City officials also approved the addition of a part time maintenance worker that would be employed no more than 24 hours per week until the end of September at a cost of $7.50 per hour. Donna Cheevers, City Clerk, said the costs were not budgeted, but the budget could be adjusted to allow for the addition.
Council members also approved giving the city’s Chief Court Clerk, a $1.50 per hour raise, while allowing her to reduce her hours by five per week. Salary costs to the city will be offset by the reduction in hours. City offices will now be open from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Mayor Groom told council members that Tammy Shafer had been offered another court clerk position and the changes were necessary to be more competitive. The adjustment in hours and salary were approved 6-1 with Johnny James voting no; Carroll Hancock was absent.
Mayor Groom said he had received a letter of resignation earlier that day from Council Member Carroll Hancock, Ward 3 Position 1. Groom said he was resigning for medical reasons and that the council would need to appoint someone to his unexpired term at the June 13 meeting.
Rezoning Decision Tabled
Council Members continued discussing rezoning land along Hwy. 265 and whether to permit lesser use construction in a commercial zone, but made no decision. Michael Moore, chairperson of the city’s planning commission said that the planning commission had met last week and was not interested in making any changes to zoning at this time. He said the city’s code does not allow single family dwelling construction in a C3 zone and that zoning changes could be made across the city, but did not allow for spot rezoning.
Susie McGowan, who owns property on Hwy. 265, asked city council members last month to rezone her property so she could build a home there. Part of McGowan’s property is zoned R3, but McGowan would like to build her house on part of her land that is zoned C3. Sharp said that while McGowan preferred the property be rezoned, she would be okay with an amendment allowing the home to be built in a commercial zone.
Mayor Groom said its common practice for cities to allow less intensive use and would like to see the city simplify, and streamline its zoning code.
“We’ve known along we’d have to come back and tweak this,” said Groom.
Council Member Greg White said he was in favor of rezoning rather than allowing less intensive construction projects on commercially zoned land.
Groom said there was no water or sewer in the area and that while he thinks it’s great the area has potential growth for commercial use, “it’s nowhere close right now.”
Council Member Johney Boles said the C-3 zoning along Hwy. 265 “represents our long term goals, but doesn’t represent our short term needs.”
Moore said the planning commission intends to hold a public meeting at its June 6 meeting.