The Lonoke City Council heard of non-payment of unpaid court expense debit Monday night during the council meeting.
City Attorney Camille Bennett gave an update on the standings of the City of Lonoke versus Lonoke County lawsuit. Bennett said as the council is aware, the city won its lawsuit against the county in November 2013 and the appeal filed by the county for a rehearing was denied on Jan. 9. She said as of Monday, the city has yet to receive any money from the county.
According to Bennett, she and Mayor Wayne McGee met with county attorney Geoff Thompson two weeks ago. Thompson informed them that he and County Judge Doug Erwin will first meet to discuss items of the district court budget request before a proposal will be made at the Feb. 20 Quorum Court meeting. Budgets are sent annually to the county for approval prior to the December quorum court meeting.
Bennett said she also questioned Thompson about a statement made in another newspaper, which claimed some of the city expenses were not legitimate expenses. She said Thompson’s reply was that he is unaware of any comments made regarding non-legitimate expenses.
According to McGee, he told Thompson that the judge or any member of the Quorum court is welcome to walk around the city court room and offices if they have any concerns about abuse of expense requests. He said not only has the city used general funds to cover some court expenses in previous years, but the district judge would would not be sitting below a water ceiling if the court expenses were not legitimate.
"They can call a dog a cat for all I care, so long as they pay their money they owe us," Alderman Pat Howell said.
According to Bennett, the city has three options on action to take at this point in time. She said the council can do nothing, they can wait to see if any action is taken at the February quorum court meeting or a letter can be sent now requesting payment and stating that while the city is reluctant to file suit against the county for contempt of court, it has been three months since the Arkansas Supreme Court ruling in the city’s favor.
The council unanimously agreed to send a letter.
In other city business, the council unanimously voted to:
• Move $30,000 out of the Community Center operating funds into the building CD fund.
• Spend up to $1,500 to have the windows tinted in the pool area and multi-purpose rooms of the Community Center.
• Purchase a Versa Climber in the amount of $4,685 for the Community Center.
• Approve the disposal or sell of two elliptical and one stair stepper at the Community Center.
•Accept the Community Center bylaws and instruct the city attorney to move forward with adoption of the bylaws.
•Spend up to $4,000 to complete the freeway lighting system.
• Spend $3,600 with Randy Carter Construction of Benton to dig up sewer mains and services at two locations on Cotton Lane and make necessary repairs.
• Spend $2,500 to repair fencing at the ball park.
• Proceed with the condemnation of 321 Harrison and get cost estimates.
• Continue with the condemnation of 1222 Oakdale.
Aldermen Raymond Hatton and Janie Derning were absent from the meeting. The next council meeting will be at 6 p.m. on March 10 in the court room.