The Conway City Council changed city hall’s proposed 2015 budget to fund raises for some police and firefighters promised in 2012.
As presented to the council at Tuesday night’s meeting, the raises would have started in July. The council was in general agreement that the police and firefighters had waited long enough for the raises, which the council signed off on in 2012 but hasn’t been able to fund because of a tight general fund budget.
The general fund is mostly made up of retail sales tax income, which has been "flat," or not growing, for the past few years. Council member Shelley Mehl recommended moving all money budgeted for police/fire training, travel and small equipment, about $340,000 in all, to payroll to fund the raises at the start of the year.
Some unallocated money should be available to restore some travel/training and equipment early in 2015, and the council agreed to revisit the issue then.
The council also approved contracts with Gaver Engineers and Jane Construction to design and build 12 additional enclosed hangars at the new Cantrell Field airport. Delays, mostly caused by wet weather, increased Garver Engineers’ fees by about $148,000 for the overall project, airport manager Josh Zylks told the council. The fuel infrastructure should start going in at the new airport by the start of next week at the latest, Zylks said, and the old airport will close for air traffic by the end of January.
The council also approved "buying out" current airport operator Conway Aviation Services for about $201,000.
The city’s tow truck contract was also up for renewal. Relaxing the requirements for eligible tow companies had been discussed. This would have let smaller companies with lighter-duty trucks join the rotation of on-call tow drivers. However, the council decided to keep only companies with two "normal" trucks, a flat-bed truck and a heavy truck for moving commercial trucks — essentially keeping the existing agreements intact.
In other business, the council approved:
Resolutions requesting the Faulkner County Tax Collector place a certified lien on properties at 2132 Hickory Street and 24 Rolling Hills as a result of incurred expenses by the City.2.
bids for the 2015 annual materials and services utilized by the Street Department.
An ordinance adopting the Energy Code 2014 for the Permits & Inspection Department (a contentious HVAC pressure-test requirement was removed from the state energy code requirements).
Nominations for the newly created Robinson Cemetery Board.
A conditional use request for a pet lodge for property located at 1300 Old Military Road (allowing for a sort of pet daycare business called The Hounds’ Hideaway).
• Rezoning property located at 915 E. Oak Street from C-3 to PUD (allowing for restaurant/retail development on the property).
• Annual bids for universal refuse roll carts & recycling carts for the Sanitation Department.
• An ordinance appropriating funds for the purchase of additional software for the alert system for the Conway Fire Department.
• An ordinance appropriating funds and waiving bids for the purchase of a heavy duty rescue from Pierce Manufacturing for the CFD (replacing a 2004-model truck).
• An ordinance accepting donated funds to cover pet expenses for the Animal Welfare Shelter.
• An ordinance accepting assets obtained through court order for the Conway Police Department (a laptop and some hand tools).
• An ordinance appropriating asset forfeiture funds for an online reporting system for the CPD (the system will allow citizens to file some reports online for lesser crimes like harassing communications and identity fraud and other instances where the general purpose of a police report is to make a record).
• An ordinance appropriating reimbursement funds from various entities to CPD.