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The Helena Arkansas Daily World - Helena, AR
  • Board looks for savings

  • Last week, the Helena West Helena City Council discussed the possible consolidation of the street and Parks and Recreation departments during a specially called workshop in order to try to address revenue generation and expense cutting items.
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  • Last week, the Helena West Helena City Council discussed the possible consolidation of the street and Parks and Recreation departments during a specially called workshop in order to try to address revenue generation and expense cutting items. Councilman Don Etherly explained that a outline was requested to be presented before regular council session to each one of the members at the table which detailed categories of expense and reducing costs as well as projected revenue totals. “What I presented was alternative courses of action that this body can take,” explained Etherly to the Mayor and the listening audience. Etherly quickly acknowledge those who came to the workshop as the Mayor was not present, and continued to reflect briefly on what each category suggested. “If you look at the proposed option of consolidating the Street and Recreation department you can see that I incorporated the removal of the Parks directors salary of $43,500 and the elimination of the gulf course, which from my understanding that someone may have an interest in leasing the gulf course,” explained Etherly. Etherly estimated that this would save the city $16,640 times two, for each city employee. “These three numbers alone reflect a projected saving of $76,780. According to Etherly, only one course of action would be able to made in the said line items. Etherly went on to explained that the elimination of a dept. head from either the street or sanitation dept in the proposed consolidation of the Street and Sanitation dept was also addressed as well as how the administration has a chief of staff as well as a administrative assistant. “We discussed the salary of one at $37,000 and the other at $24,000 and agreed to project removing the $24,000 salary,” explained Etherly. According to Etherly, this reflected a projected savings of $67,5000. Ehtelry explained that council woman Wanda Croskett suggested that elected officials take a pay cut of 5 percent, which reflected a total of $286,200 worth of earning from the mayors office to the council to the judges, city clerk, and treasurer. Etherly then explained that he divided the total by 5 percent which produced a 14, 310 per year “depending on how you broke it down” Etherly commented. Ethelry also pointed out that each elected official would have to agree to have their pay cut, it can not be force upon. Ethelry recalled that as of right right, payroll presents a 116,000 financial compromise that he broke down into 5 persent pay cuts for each payroll period reflecting a city wide savings of $208,000 per year. Ethelry explained that his outline also shared the total savings for each grouped item that the city discussed as an an option. “councilman Eddie Clark also proposed a $5 increase to the sanitation fee, however, Councilman John Huff questioned if fees were being enforced for additional trash cans for each sanitation customer,” explained Etherly. Etherly stated that the council discussed the current additional trash can fee that may or may nor be enforced reflecting a $10 additional service charge for each additional trash can. However Etherly explained that he just projected that the city is losing 2 percent of general revenue to these insufficient fees that could be collected if tracked through a better tracking system. “I gathered that the east and west sanitation dept has 4279 customers and if 2 percent of those have an additional can this could generated about $10, 269.60 per year,” explained Etherly. Etherly explained that the council also discussed the proposed $5 sanitation fee increase as proposed by Councilman Clark, and discovered that this was reflected to be a total generate revenue of $256, 740 per year. Sales tax was also broken down into an 8th of a penny totaling 180,500 per year, a quarter totaling at $375,000 and ½ penny totaling at $750,000 per year based on last years collections as well as this years projected numbers for next year. According Etherly, he found it arbitrary to include the police 385,219 revenue increase Made notes about commericial roll of carts Additional savings could be gained through lowering the over time expenses within the police dept. as well as additional revenue that could be collected through sanitation fee enforcement. “I think that there is definitely still more of a thought process that may need to take place and accept and discuss the items outlined,” commented Etherly. Etherly stated that he felt the workshop session was upheld in a productive manner and that the council worked well in deliberating the city's options.
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