By BECKY HARRIS

LOG CABIN STAFF WRITER

The Conway City Council met for four hours Saturday in its annual retreat, a work session designed to spend more time on issues to come before the council.

The council made decisions relating to:

• Holding an election in the spring asking residents to extend the refund of bonds issued in 2006;

• Authorizing Metroplan to assist in the redistricting of ward boundaries according to the 2010 census; and

• Appointing a task force to review the city’s operations including personnel and financial policies.

Bond refund

The council split 4-4 on going to the voters in the spring to agree to an extension of payment of bonds issued in 2006 to pay for the new police station. The plan would be to use 1/8 of the sales tax to pay off the bonds and rededicate 1/8 of the tax to help alleviate the city’s current "cash crunch" in its general fund for operations. Final maturity of the bonds would be extended up to two years, to 2016.

Half the council members, David Grimes, Theo Jones, Shelia Whitmore and Mark Vaught agreed with that single issue proposal, but the other half, Andy Hawkins, Mary Smith, Jim Rhodes and Shelley Mehl, agreed to that proposal but wanted to add a second option for voters to further extend the payoff of the bonds and use those funds to pay for public safety future needs, such as new police and fire vehicles.

Mayor Tab Townsell broke the tie, and the single issue will go to voters in the spring.

Redistricting

The council passed a resolution to ask the staff of Metroplan to help rezone the city’s four wards, coordinating as closely as possible with the Faulkner County justice of the peace districts that lie within the city. 

A goal would be to have the new districts in place before the next primary and general elections.

Task force

Lowell McClanahan, acting chief financial officer of the city, agreed to serve as chairman of a task force that would examine the city’s operations and policies and, after a year-long study, make reports or recommendations on a monthly basis to the City Council. 

The committee will be charged with three tasks. 

1. Examine departmental requirements, goals and mission to determine adequate and appropriate levels of staffing.

2. Review city operations for potential revenue sources from operations such as rental rates and user fees, potential savings from privatization or outsourcing of jobs, services, programs or facilities and optional ways of doing business.

3. Examine financial policies of the city including reviewing budgetary policies and procedures, long and short-term cash flow projections, cash management policies, banking arrangements and any and all agreements or contracts that have a financial implication.

The following have agreed to serve on the task force.

Joel Hawkins, accounting; Danny Thomas, insurance; Linda Linn, small business; Brad Hegeman, construction and accounting; Bob Bell, small business and Civil Service Commission; Greg Sanson, banking and manufacturing; Gene Salter, construction; David Crow, human resources and energy; Bruce Sossamon, retired finance officer in manufacturing; and Nancy Turner, CFO of the Department of Human Services.

McClanahan and Assistant to the Mayor Jack Bell will be ex-officio members of the task force.

Following the meeting, the council moved to the second-floor outdoor patio of the Police Department, overlooking Downtown Conway, and dined on taco soup made by Councilwoman Whitmore and jambalaya made by Councilman Vaught.

(Becky Harris can be reached at 505-1234 or becky.harris@thecabin.net)