Pea Ridge Council tables budget; merit pay doubled

Merit pay doubled

The city's budget for 2023 was tabled at the Tuesday, Nov. 15, City Council meeting. The 2023 proposed budget was $17,034,579. The 2022 budget was $14,541,115.

"We're not ready to do that yet," Mayor Jackie Crabtree said. "We're going to be meeting with department heads more."

Council members and city department heads had met in a Council Committee of the Whole meeting Monday, Nov. 7, and department heads presented their budget requests to the Council. Their requests totaled more than $17 million.

City Clerk Sandy Button said the city's revenue will more likely be in the realm of $12 million.

She said the good news is that the revenue from the new city sales tax for police, fire, streets will help but she recommended department heads refigure their budgets and list priorities.

"Make sure salaries get paid, that's hugely important," Button said. "Then, O&M (operations and maintenance), then other things. We'll do the best we can do."

Council member Steve Guthrie said, "You're going to have to stretch some dollars."

Merit raises increased

City employees will receive twice as much in their end of year merit bonus as they have in the past few years thanks to a recommendation by council member Cody Keene. For the past several years, the raise has been $500 for full-time employees and $250 for part-time employees. That amount was presented by the mayor for this year.

"How many employees do we have?" Keene asked.

"Somewhere between 35 ... and maybe three to four part-time," Button answered.

"I'd like to see a little bit more money after everything we've gone through," Keene said. "I think we've got a pretty good group of folks who worked their tales off through covid. Seeing the way this city is growing ... this may be high, but I'd like to see $1,000 and $500."

"Since we just tabled the budget, is there money for that?" asked council member Ginger Larsen.

"Yes," said Button, looking to Starla Billington, city bookkeeper, who concurred.

In other business, council members:

• Approved the purchase of a 2023 Ford Explorer for $34,231 from Smart Ford Malvern for city administration;

• Approved a resolution authorizing the city to enter into an agreement with Seven Valleys Construction Inc. and Kinney Creek Development LLC; and

• Approved the appointment of Greg Pickens and Samantha Flint to the Pea Ridge Planning Commission. Both were issued the oath of office by the mayor and will begin serving immediately. They replace Patrick Wheeless and Tony Byars, who resigned.