Copies of a proposed 2021 budget were distributed at Monday night’s Walnut Ridge City Council meeting for members to review prior to the December meeting.
Mayor Charles Snapp noted that the Airport Commission has presented a budget and should not require any funds from the city
“We are very fortunate to have a self-sustaining airport,” he said.
He said the city’s budget for the upcoming year is based on the anticipated revenue used for the 2020 budget.
Proposed changes include a $520 raise for full-time employees, along with covering the increase in cost for personal health insurance for employees, which is going up $485 per person, per year.
“With the $520 raise and the increase in health insurance cost, each employee will be getting an extra $1,000 if you want to look at it that way,” Snapp said.
In 2020, the council designated $100,000 for a COVID fund, using $35,000 of the funds. Snapp said he would like the city to budget $50,000 for COVID relief in 2021 for emergency use.
“If we add that to the 2021 budget, we would still have $151,000 in unappropriated funds,” he said.
Snapp asked council members to review the budget in full and be prepared to vote on it at the December meeting.
Council members also set a hearing regarding the abandonment of alleyways in Fontaine’s Addition near the Rail-Trail and the new Lawrence County Jail.
The property is owned by the county, the city of Walnut Ridge and Snapp Properties. The hearing, which will be held prior to the next city council meeting, is set for 5:45 p.m. on Dec. 21.
Also on Monday, council members approved a renewal of Main Street Pizza’s private club license. The council’s approval is required before application is made to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division.
Jason Willet, who spoke on behalf of owner Carlos Aguilar explained that there was some miscommunication regarding provisions made due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said an announcement regarding the waiving of late penalties caused many to miss the deadline to complete necessary paperwork, causing them to have to reapply.
“It would be helpful if we can expedite this,” he said. “It will prevent the loss of income for the city, as well as the business owners and employees.”
In other business, the council:
approved the financial report after hearing a report from Mayor Snapp that the city is doing well financially but has some significant expenses coming up, including the cost for the city’s pavement overlay program.
heard an update from City Attorney Ethan Weeks that efforts are still underway to serve J.R. and Michelle Rogers with a lawsuit regarding money owed to the city for the building that was torn down on Abbey Road.
voted to renew the fireman’s pension one-mill tax.