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City Council: Mulberry reviews water rates

Mulberry officials discussed water rates and city costs at the council meeting June 18.

City officials discussed an increase in water rates after receiving the results of a water and sewer rate study from Josh Freeman with the Arkansas Rural Water Department, according to the unapproved minutes from the June 18 council meeting.

Freeman recommended new water and sewer rates, suggesting that city officials increase the rates gradually during the next several years.

Aldermen discussed rates, costs to users, costs to the city and needed repairs, and Mayor Gary Baxter agreed to bring an ordinance on the subject for vote by the council to the next monthly meeting.

Alderman also discussed the mileage reimbursement rate for the mayor and other city employees. Currently the mayor is reimbursed 39 cents per mile while other employees are reimbursed 55 cents per mile. Baxter told aldermen the discrepancy is due to separate ordinances determining the two reimbursement rates.

Alderman Stacy Muntz suggested the reimbursement to city employees be lowered to the same amount as set for the mayor. After discussion, it was agreed that all reimbursement amounts should be reset to the state rate of 42 cents per mile.

Baxter agreed to bring amendments to both ordinances for vote by the council to the next meeting.

During the meeting, council members agreed to replace two members of the Planning and Zoning Commission who resigned. Ray Mitcham was replaced by Shannon Callahan and John Moody was replaced by Joseph Wilcox.

Amounts reimbursed to firefighters was changed to $10.25 per call or meeting from the graduated amounts that had been set in 2012, which ranged from $4 for new firefighters to $20 for the chief.

Jeff Marvin, recently named interim fire chief, suggested the change, noting that all members of the fire department do the same job on a fire.

Baxter received approval from council members to apply for a $5,000 Rural Development Grant to help pay for a newly purchased police vehicle. The vehicle, purchased from Texas, is currently being fitted with police gear in Fort Smith.

City officials will hold the annual Celebrate Mulberry event this Saturday, June 29 at Kirksey Park beginning at 5 p.m. Informational booths on local services will be set up at the event, and a fundraiser catfish dinner will be sponsored by Catfish Cove to benefit Kirksey Hospital. Fireworks start at dark.

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