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City Council amends budget for police stipend, approves maintenance building addition

Mountain Home’s City Council voted to amend their 2022 budget to account for a new law enforcement stipend passed by the Arkansas State legislature during their 2022 fiscal session that could mean Mountain Home police officers pocket an extra $5,000.

The newly amended budget will help officers get their stipend as quickly and smoothly as possible.

And While Mountain Home officers may be getting a well-deserved cash injection, Mountain Home Police Chief Eddie Griffin said they may still be on the hook for taxes.

“There’s going to be some taxes held out,” said Griffin. “I don’t know how they’re going to do it. I think, possibly, some federal taxes will be held out, maybe not state, if I understood correctly. I don’t think a lot of it will. It’s kind of up in the air about how much will be held out.”

Officers must be working full-time to be eligible for the cash stipend, and there are currently no exemptions to that rule in the General Assembly’s Act 224, which grants officers the stipend.

The state-wide officer stipend comes from a $50 million pool set up by the General Assembly, with Mountain Home receiving a total of $175,000.

DF&A will reimburse the payment for the one-time stipend as the certified officers are entered by the Chief of Police into CLEST, which in turn verifies to the State to make the disbursements in the total amount of approximately $175,000.00 for the stipend at $5,000.00 each officer that qualifies and approximately $13,450.00 in social security payments on these dollars.

During the Thursday City Council meeting, Griffin said he applied for the stipend immediately to pay his officers as quickly as possible but was forced to resubmit the department’s paperwork after an officer resigned.

It is unknown when Mountain Home police officers will receive their new, one-time stipend.

In other council news, a resolution approving the purchase of a new tractor for the Parks Department was approved by the council, totaling $47,830.28. The money to pay for the tractor comes from selling some outdated equipment at Walker Auctions.

The council also approved an additional $30,000 to expand the Park Department’s maintenance building at Clysta Park. The building is currently lacking female restrooms, as well as air conditioning and heat.

Mayor Adams said his goal was to add a new restroom and a lunch break room for the city’s employees, who are currently sitting on equipment or the floor to eat their meals.

“They don’t even have a place to sit down,” Adams said.

Following the discussion on the maintenance building expansion, Adams called on the council to approve a resolution allowing Director of Finance and Treasury Alma Clark to sign off on the city’s sale of bonds for its upcoming Water Department projects in lieu of Mountain Home City Clerk Brian Plumlee.

Adams said the decision made more sense now that the city officially had Clark as a full-time director of finance. As the previous water and sewer director, Clark has been heavily involved in the sale of the bonds for the city’s multi-million dollar water treatment plant upgrade.

Clark’s former department achieved a victory earlier this year after City Council approved an overhaul of the city’s water system.

The council approved nine separate ordinances for the departments, ranging from purchasing new trucks to purchasing new pumps for its water and wastewater stations.

City Council also agreed to accept three agreements with Garver, an employee-owned multi-disciplined engineering, planning, architectural, and environmental services firm, to develop a 2022 Water and Sewer Master Plan update, complete improvements to the city’s wastewater treatment plant, and evaluate and design improvements to the Southwest Collection System for the city.

In the last bit of news from Thursday’s meeting, Mayor Adams announced that the city’s new director of parks and recreation, Daniel Baxley, will begin work on Aug. 8.

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