The Lonoke City Council unanimously approved the increase of water rates on Monday night during the council meeting.
Effective May 1, Lonoke residents and business owners will see a $1 increase to the minimum rates for water and sewer services. The new minimum cost for water consumption is $12 for 1,000 gallons and an additional $3.95 per 1,000 gallons consumed thereafter. Sewage charges for residential sewage service will be a minimum of $7.61 for the first 1,000 gallons with a $2.12 charger per additional 1,000 gallons.
The new minimum cost for water consumption for business customers is $31 for 1,000 gallons and an additional $3.95 per 1,000 gallons consumed thereafter. Sewage charges for business customers will be a minimum of $9.61 for the first 1,000 gallons with a $2.12 charger per additional 1,000 gallons.
For commercial water consumption, the new minimum rate is $41 for 1,000 gallons and an additional $3.95 per 1,000 gallons consumed thereafter. Sewage charges for commercial sewage service will be a minimum of $12.22 for the first 1,000 gallons with a $2.12 charger per additional 1,000 gallons.
The new minimum cost for industrial water consumption is $62.04 for the first 1,000 gallons and an additional $3.95 per 1,000 gallons consumed thereafter. Sewage charges for industrial sewage service will be a minimum of $14.83 for the first 1,000 gallons with a $2.12 charger per additional 1,000 gallons.
A new ordinance was unanimously passed to regulate the handling of trash for all multi-family dwellings. Residential units will now be assigned an identifiable container with a fitted lid where trash from the unit must be placed. Additional trash must be in a sealed bag clearly marked with the resident’s unit number. Trash containers put on the street for pick up may be placed no sooner that 12 hours before the scheduled pickup and can remain no longer than 12 hours following the regular scheduled pick up. Any violation of the ordinance shall be punishable by the district court. Violations occur by either leaving the container at the street during unauthorized time or by allowing trash to escape the container, resulting in a $400 fine for the first violation, $800 for a second violation and $1,200 for a third violation. All fines shall be issued to the unit number responsible or to the the owner of the property if the unit responsible is not identifiable.
Lonoke Chief of Police Mike Wilson said theft reports have made a significant increased this year compared to March 2013. Wilson said while there are metal thefts and shoplifting occurring, one of the biggest threats to residents right now is debit and credit card fraud. He said there were a number of purses stolen from vehicles alone in the last month. Wilson said while many believe leaving their purse behind in a locked car is safe, criminals are not above smashing a window to get to a purse.
"Leaving these purses in your vehicle or where people can get to it, they will get it," Wilson said.
According to Wilson, theft by gangs are on the rise. He said there are gangs traveling across the state with the objective to steal. Wilson said while traveling along the interstate, gang members have been know to an exit, stop a convenient store, snatch a purse and get right back on the interstate where they are gone before the owner is aware of what has happened.
"Make sure to keep up with credit card numbers and purses," Wilson said. "Hopefully we can cut down on it [theft]."
Also during the meeting, the council unanimously voted to:
-Spend up to $3500 each for the clean up of the properties located at 312 Harrison and 1222 Oakdale
-Purchase a pool heater from Clarity Pools for $9,603.15
-Purchase an All Purpose Cleaner from Datek, Inc. of Little Rock for $3,600.
-Spend up to $3200 for the purchase of delivered red rock for the ball park
-Purchase 24 tons of clay for the ball park in the amount of $1,850
-Remodel the dugouts of field three for $12,000
-Purchase city playground replacement equipment from Miracle Recreation Equipment of Monett Missouri in the amount of $5,289.43
-Purchase six handheld radios for $2,400 for the fire department
-Accept the bid of $24.743.75 L&R Sewer & Drain, LLC of Peavey Missouri for the manhole rehabilitation project and to spend additional funds necessary for the repair of three more manholes if needed
-Spend up to $10,000 for piping and supplies to repair drainage issue near the school.
-Spend $1,500 for weir at the sewer pond
-Pass ordinance 663 with an emergency clause, to modify the community center bylaws to include attendance requirements, voting by telephone or electronic messaging and conflict of interest provisions.
Before the meeting adjourned, mayor Wayne McGee informed the council that the city has yet to receive any back payment from the county. At this time the city is owned $43,030.58 for unpaid salaries and operating expenses.
McGee said the city was also shorted for the months of January and February of this year as well. According to McGee after speaking to Lonoke County Judge Doug Erwin, two checks for the remaining half of the additional court clerk salary was hand delivered to city hall but the payment was still short for $2,700 in operating expenses for the two months. McGee said a grievance meeting was scheduled for Tuesday night so the Lonoke County Quorum Court could discuss where the funds to pay the city would be appropriated from. He said according to Erwin, a check will be hand delivered on Wednesday.
After brief discussion by members on what time frame was appropriate to allow the county to pay, since the funds were due immediately following the denial of the rehearing on Jan. 9, McGee brought to the council that the city is still having to pay city attorney Camille Bennett for any and all attempts to collect the owned money since the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled in favor of the city in November 2013. With a motion by alderman Pat Howell, the council unanimously voted to file a motion for contempt of court against the county with the addition of city attorney fees, if the money is not paid on Wednesday.
The next Lonoke City Council meeting will be at 6 p.m. April 14 in the courtroom of City Hall.