The De Queen City Council met in the City Hall lobby for a special meeting on Oct. 30. The meeting was scheduled to replace the Nov. 6 regular meeting due to remodeling that’s going on at City Hall.
The council approved an ordinance to waive competitive bidding as it hopes to purchase a Case 650 Dozer with 1,600 hours on it. This is the third time the council has voted to make a dozer purchase this year, with the other attempts failing to go through.
“I sent two people from the street department to look at it this week and they like it... a lot,” McKelvy wrote in his report to the council. “By far the cleanest machine we have seen so far. They ran it and said it is a good, tight machine.”
He said the price of the new dozer is $59,000 and that they don’t want the city’s used old dozer in trade. He said that at 16,500 pounds, the city can haul it.
“If you buy it they will service it out of their shop and we’re committed,” McKelvy said.
He said that the 1992 or ’93 Case 250 dozer the city has is too small and needs $6,000 in parts to get it going. He said that many local people have expressed an interest in it and that he would prefer to auction it locally. He said that the city has received an offer of $8,000 for a backhoe it owns and $3,500 for the dozer. He said that the police department also has a pair of vehicles it wishes to sell but that the city should sell those online where it usually gets more money.
“We don’t need cold equipment out there,” Alderman Walter Smith said. “It just gets in the way.”
“We’ll live auction those two items and put the others (police cars) online,” McKelvy said. “If someone around here wants it, I’d like for them to have it.”
The council voted 4-0 to approve the ordinance with alderman Gary Casey and Lawrence Wishard absent.
The council then voted 4-0 to sell the police cars online.
• McKelvy then gave an update on upcoming 2019 budget, saying the council will have to make some big decisions on the city’s health care plan. He said while usage has been down the last six months, the plan’s $500 deductible should be maintained for at least another six months. He said that city employees have been told to use the insurance if they need to but they’ve been encouraged not to “waste it” but rather try to conserve and keep the rates down for everyone.
• McKelvy also made the suggestion that due to employees having to pay 5 percent into the new retirement plan the city is implementing, that they receive a 5 percent cost of living increase in 2019.
“It’ll give them time to get used to kicking in,” he said.
The new plan does not cover police or firefighters, who are a part of the Arkansas Public Employees Retirement plan, which McKelvy said was a “Cadillac” health plan compared to what other city employees will receive.
“Five percent for the non-uniform folks I believe is doable,” he said, noting that the city will be contributing 10 percent to the employee plan. “I think this is a good start.”
McKelvy said that council also needs to ponder the salaries for elected officials in the upcoming budget once the elections are complete.
• He said that there were some “big ticket” items that would have to be budgeted for in the water department, which has water tanks that need to be painted, some on the inside and some outside or both. ‘He said that an initial estimate was $270,000 but that estimates have now gone up to about $850.000.
“It is a big undertaking,” McKelvy said, noting that no action would need to be taken until next fall.
“We need to start planning though right now,” Smith said.
• McKelvy then told the council that they were back in rotation to receive a state grant to fix local roads and that it would probably be 2020 before they were back at the top of the list, though they would be approved when they did reach the top.
• He ended the meeting by informing the council that while they couldn’t “fire” a fellow elected alderman, they could establish rules to compel alderman to attend meetings and apply penalties, such as withholding pay to alderman that don’t attend meetings.