The De Queen City Council heard a presentation from Dave Harwood of Vyve Broadband at their Oct. 2 meeting. Harwood told the council that Vyve is going to upgrade the local cable system in November, which will increase Internet speeds to 300 Mbps.
Harwood also said they will add high definition channels for television customers and that the available channels will be increased but will require TV customers to have a converter box for each television.
Harwood said that the first box will be free and there will be a cost for additional boxes. The boxes will be available at an office at Pepper Creek Plaza on U.S. 70-71 East and that technicians will be available for customers who need help.
• The council also got an update from Sandy Huntsberger on the city hall remodeling that’s been going on for the last month. Huntsberger said that most of the painting has been done and that the contractor will be at city hall the week of Oct. 29-Nov. 2 to begin replacing floors and installing cabinets. Construction should take anywhere from 10 days to two weeks.
• The council then heard requests from representatives of the Sevier County Senior Citizens Center and the Sevier County Historical Society, to continue to provide funds for the two organizations from the city’s 2019 budget.
Shelia Nash, operator of the senior center, said that since they came on board in July, they’ve had to overcome many obstacles to get things running more smoothly. She said they are still short on funding because reimbursements are paid based on last year’s numbers, but the community has been generous.
Nash asked the council for $10,000 next year, which would be used to purchase a used van to transport people and supplies and replace a 2000 pickup, which is worn out. Gary Walker, chairman of the Sevier County Historical Society, asked that the museum funding be increased from $4,000 to $5,000. He said that the director is working on a volunteer basis and that the organization is falling behind on maintenance.
• The council approved a resolution which authorizes additional payments on loans to payoff the city’s sewer treatment plant, in an attempt to pay off the loans early and save money interest. McKelvy said the city has been paying on the loan for 10 years and reduced the balance to about half of the $6.9 million initial loan. The extra payments were approved unanimously by the council.
• The council also unanimously approved a resolution accepting the 2017 Legislative Audit Report.
• The council unanimously voted to consolidate the local firemen’s pension fund into the Arkansas Local Police & Fire Retirement System (LOPFI).
McKelvy told the council that the board for the local Firemen’s Pension and Relief fund had tried, unsuccessfully, to get a benefit increase this year.
“The plan has eight members and will be forced to consolidate into LOPFI when they get down to five,” McKelvy said. “After several meetings and a consolidation valuation report, the board met last week and voted to go ahead with the consolidation into LOPFI.”
McKelvy said that as a part of LOPFI, the members will receive an annual cost of living adjustment (COLA) each July.
“The proceeds in the fund will be enough to pay the benefits and COLA, without additional money from the city,” McKelvy said. “The 4/10ths mill property tax will continue to go to LOPFI. When the last beneficiary is gone, any funds reserved by the city of De Queen can be used to fund LOPFI retirement for firefighters still employed.”