Conway City Council members will meet at 6:30 p.m. today in the Judge Russell L. "Jack" Roberts District Court Building to again discuss the city’s proposed 2011 budget.

Lowell McClanahan, interim chief financial officer, said the proposal may be passed at today’s regular meeting, or council members may ask for supplemental information.

The city’s deadline for the 2011 fiscal year budget is Feb. 1.

If the ordinance is adopted as the budget is, McClanahan said there would be an understanding that the budget will be revised if voters approve the restructuring of a pre-dedicated sales tax.

The tax, if approved by voters in spring of 2011, would provide funds to reinstate the step-grid pay increase plan originally promised to city employees.

McClanahan said that dedicating a portion of the tax, now servicing a portion of the city’s debt, may also give the city a "direly needed reserve."

At a previous meeting surrounding the proposed budget, Mayor Tab Townsell suggested the rededication of an already dedicated sales tax as an alternative to a proposed 1 mill tax increase on personal property.

According to Townsell, the tax is an existing half-cent sales tax that currently serves two issues of public improvements. 

Townsell said it is possible to extend the debt on those projects and dedicate a portion of it to the city’s general fund.

At the council’s last meeting, alderman Jim Rhodes suggested a possible revenue source; a temporary increase on franchise fees such as services offered by Conway Corp.

McClanahan said he will recommend that council members not consider the option "because the difficulty in the process outweighs its benefits."

"It would be my recommendation that they focus on the future and the tax redistribution. It is my belief that we need to get out of the emergency mode and into the planning mode in the city, and this would be the first step in that process," McClanahan said.

The council may also discuss the formation of a blue ribbon committee, whose purpose would be to meet and make proposals for solutions in city’s future.

"Membership is not settled as of yet," McClanahan said. "It will be members of the community that have management expertise and experience."

McClanahan said the scope of that committee, its processes and what it may deliver is up for discussion at today’s meeting and future meetings.

(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by e-mail at courtney.spradlin@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)