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City approves 2022 budget

by Marc Hayot | November 23, 2021 at 1:32 p.m.

Budgets presented by city department heads of Pea Ridge recently at a City Council Committee of the Whole meeting were approved Tuesday at a City Council meeting. The total 2022 budget is for $14,541,115 compared to $10,188,455 for 2021.

At the committee meeating, staff members took turns presenting their budget for 2022. The departments spoke on city general, police, library, fire, streets and the water department. City officials presented individual budgets to the City Council members and answered questions by aldermen.

During the regular Council meeting, Mayor Jackie Crabtree said there were a couple of changes made from the budget present at the committee meeting, a couple of which were for the Fire Department, one of which was to decrease the number of personnel from 15 to 12.

Council member Merrill White asked Fire Chief Jared Powell if hiring 12 people complied with the state requirements for the ambulance department. Powell assured White it did.


Library Director Alex Wright presented the library's budget for 2022. The biggest change to the budget, according to Wright is changing the programmer position from part-time to full-time. Donations to the library and book fines are down, Wright said.

This required the library to invest more money into circulation items, Wright said. According to the library's budget, the amount for circulation items jumped from $7,800 for 2021 to $9,000 for 2022.

Insurance was another item which went up. In the 2021 budget, the library paid $1,500 for insurance, the budget handout states. For 2022 that number jumped up to $4,000, the budget handout states.

Wright said nothing in the building was previously insured so Wright modified the library's policy to include all of the items in the building.

"We've got to be sure that we have our books covered," Wright said.

Community programs also jumped to $5,570 for 2022 from $3,000 the previous year, the handout states. Wright said she received several grants for community programs. The grants include two from Walmart totaling $3,000, Wright said.

The library is also using those funds for things like speakers for library events and a Cricket for patrons to use, Wright said.

Presently, the highest item on the budget is building maintenance which is $16,500, the handout states. Wright said this is mainly due to a water issue that has caused water to flood the library. Wright attributes this to the building being old and in need of repair.

Fixing the leak would cause $12,000, Wright said.

The $16,500 also helps fund pest control, landscaping and will help pay for a new HVAC system for the library which will run approximately $6,000, Wright said.

There is also a hole in the heating exchange due to an old rusted part, Wright wants to fix, she said. Wright could replace the part for $1,200 to $1,400 or replace the whole unit for $9,000, she said.


Streets Department director Nathan See presented the budget for the street department. Major increases to the budget were for repairing a drainage culvert which raised the budget from $20,000 in 2021 to $35,000 in 2022; a street project for 2022 that raised the budget from $96,000 to $200,000.

See said the 2022 project could be overlay projects, micro-surfacing projects or construction projects. He didn't say which project it would be but said which ever the city approves is the one the street department will focus on.

"My main increase is just inflation," See said.

Fuels, materials and salaries contributed to the higher budget amount for the new year. The street department's budget for 2021 was $814,000 while the 2022 budget is projected to be $999,000, the handout states.

White asked whether there should be an actual parks department to handle mowing and maintenance for city parks. See told White that it is something that he is looking at within the next year or two.


Water Utilities Department director Ken Hayes presented the budget for the water and wastewater department. The largest expense for the water department is payroll which has jumped to $412,000 from $317,000 the previous year, according to the water department's budget handout.

The hourly rate for water department personnel is around $16 an hour, according to bookkeeper Angie McDuff. Hayes said the sore spot was just getting people in because the city can't compete with the private sector so salary adjustments had to be made. McDuff also said they are trying to look for two new people.

Larsen asked how many employees there were on the sewer side. McDuff said there were about seven employees. McDuff tries to balance out the employees between the two departments to make it more equal, she said.

Another new expense was water meters, McDuff said. Due to the new growth in the city, the water department has spent $124,000 on new meters, McDuff said. Hayes said there is also a meter replacement fund that the McDuff puts several thousand dollars in, Hayes said.

"Meters are a very big cost but it's getting better over the years," Hayes said. "We're spending less and less money."

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