Arkansas City Board Delays Vote to Pass 2014 Budget
The Texarkana Arkansas City Board of Directors were unable to pass the proposed budget tonight for 2014. The board voted to delay the vote on the budget until later this month. The biggest budget increase seems to be a $400,000 raise in costs of the Bi-State Justice Building.
The proposed budget for 2014 is $39,000,000. The biggest issue is there are expected city costs of $857,000 more than money coming in, with $400,000 being the biggest increased cost with Texarkana Arkansas' use of the Bi-State Justice Building. With a large increase in the cost of housing inmates at the Bi-State, law enforcement agencies are looking at a couple of different options.
Texarkana Arkansas City Manager Harold Boldt insures the public that the city is in good shape, with close to $3,000,000 in city reserves. (Some point out that does not include increased monies expected from the city's new tourist attractions, and income that will be generated from new businesses being brought into the community.)
Board members had a workshop last Thursday to discuss the budget and among ideas that were thrown around was to have city employees pay 1 to 1.5% of their salaries for health insurance, but all directors agreed against that idea. City department heads were asked to cut their budgets by 4% in an effort to save funds, and other options were agreed to be researched.
City Finance department employees worked through the weekend to get the budget ready for tonight's meeting, and were able to have it ready by noon today. Mayor Wayne Smith insists that he had been calling city hall all day to get a copy but was not able to do so until 5 P.M.. He insists that he wants to make sure the budget reflects the discussions the board had at last Thursday's workshop. Including that no money can be spent without approval of the City Board.
Mayor Smith pointed out that the budget was to be ready by the agenda item due date which he believed to be last Thursday at 12 noon, almost seeming to insinuate that Boldt and City Hall staff had not been doing their jobs, City Manager Harold Boldt reminded the mayor that the budget could not have been ready then since the board had the budget workshop that very same Thursday night.
Board member Londell Williams commented "We need to vote it up or down, and stop all this bad advertising at the expense of the citizens of Texarkana Arkansas", which garnered a chuckle from some of the very few in attendance.
Five of the seven board members voted to delay the vote on the budget to a later date.
Another topic of tonight's meeting was the addition of LaCrosse Hotel General Manager Kenzie Megason to the City's A&P Board after turning in an application just today. The required deadline to put it on the meeting's agenda was last Thursday Jan 2. Despite the rules, it was added to the evening's agenda Monday afternoon and voted on.
The budget will be revisited at the next meeting January 21.
A city budget must be passed before February 2014.
View the video of the January 6th meeting HERE.