The Van Buren City Council held a special meeting Monday to discuss the 2020 budget and Mayor Joe Hurst announced that starting in 2020 all city employees will receive a 2% raise.

They will also look for a new city attorney starting in 2021.

The city council also committed 25% of the Interstate 40-Highway 59 Interchange Program, which will be around $3 million. A half million dollars is collected from the Municipal Highway Tax. There is currently $1,982,958 saved for the project. The projected start date is the third quarter of 2021.

Council Member Alan Swaim acknowledged the Fire Department and Police Department regarding their needs. The Fire Department expressed that in the event that the new intermodal port is approved they will require another fire engine. This engine will be used for the area by the port and industrial use.

It was also stated that the mayor makes $19,000 less than the state average for a city the size of Van Buren. The city clerk makes about $9,500 less than the state average. It was proposed to the council to find a solution to this problem at a future date.

Other business

The total of the temporary 0.5% sales tax from June to November continued to be collected by the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration after the 2012 bonds were finally paid off. Extra proceeds were approved by voters to be used for fire, police and other emergency services, as well as Parks and Recreation purposes and economic development services.

The 2019 sales tax proceeds are at $5,683,243 YTD. It is projected to be $6,153,243 by the end of 2019.