Council hears more city needs in tight budget year

 

 

The last round of city department heads told the Conway City Council what they needed and what was on their “wish lists” on Tuesday night at the council’s second work session.

 

Deputy City Attorney Chuck Clawson said that his office needs a law clerk to help handle the current caseload.

 

Giving an update on his office, Clawson said the city’s DWI process is working well. District Court Judge Susan Weaver “likes to see a number” when handling DWI cases, and the district court’s process gets the judges one when a DWI suspect declines to submit to a breath alcohol test. When someone declines, police contact Clawson who contacts Weaver. Weaver signs a search warrant via iPad to get a blood sample drawn involuntarily, and the blood alcohol content is admissible in court.

 

Jack Bell, the city’s chief of staff, told the council that a new city hall would be needed at some point in the future. The current one on Front Street was built in 1963, and has some age-related issues. The Simmons Bank location on Markham Street might be repurposed as a city hall, Bell said, but this won’t be a near-future project.

 

Mayor Tab Townsell again reminded the council that the “flat” sales tax over the last two years has left the city with a bare-bones budget, since the city’s tax structure depends largely on retail sales. Attracting more retail development is a good step, but there will be more discussion about increasing general fund revenue.

 

“We’ll either find it one way or find it another way or do without,” Townsell said.

 

In police and fire personnel, Townsell said, and in terms of the number of workers in the finance and city attorney’s offices and other departments, the city is not keeping up with “peer” cities.

 

In a piece of business left over from the last regular council meeting, an ordinance effecting five-year financing to pay for the city’s part of the Western Loop road project’s south I-40 interchange was passed. 

 

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