By Martin Couch
A recommendation to pay off an existing $46,000 loan from the Arkansas Natural Resources was approved last week during the City Council meeting.
"Several years ago we had to borrow some money[more] from the resource commission," City accountant Gary Hollis said. "It was a minor amount — a small note with a long-term payment, but now the city has the funding to pay and end that debt."
The loan was for the Bryant wastewater department and had an interest rate of 4.75 percent.
"Would it benefit us to pay it out and save interest?" Alderman Steve Gladden asked.
And he was answered by Hollis, "Absolutely."
Also, it was voted to pass a raise for all city employees for $500 and two extra days off of work this year.
"Everybody gets the same amount," Mayor Larry Mitchell said. "We were looking to get some consistency and get them something for their hard work."
There were some questions raised of the fairness of the bonuses since it would across the board and everyone get the same reward.
"It's deserved by the employees, but is there any way we can put this into the basis for the department heads and make a recommendation from them on who gets some money and who doesn't?" Gladden said. "They are going to be the same whoever achieves or underperforms and that's not fair," alderman Chris Tipton added.
"We are going to devise different values for different jobs and departments?" alderwoman Brenda Miller asked.
However, department heads from the Animal Control and Parks and Recreation departments said they were willing to give up the $500 to make sure their employees receive "something."
"The department heads have all seen this and were on board with it," said Parks and Recreation director Jeremy Lemons.
Gladden pointed out a problem.
"I think we should not give a person who has been here three months and the same thing to those who have been here three years, it kind of insults the person who has been there longer," Gladden said. "I know we are crunched for time on this, but we still need to be prudent with our dollars."
Tipton noted that 95 percent of the city staff deserved the bonus.
"From what I understand, nine of 10 people deserve it and I think we need to give them something," he said. "My recommendation in the future when we run into this situation again is to give the department heads the ability to evaluate them."
Gladden gave his recommendation, as well.
"I would feel comfortable with it all across the board if that wouldn't jeopardize those who deserve it," he said. "I will go for it, but I wouldn't want to see it again."