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Council adopts 2013 budget


The White Hall City Council adopted a $2.31 million General Fund budget Monday evening, which included raises for municipal employees and funding for a new city museum.

However, residents can expect to seek that budget jump if plans for a community center and aquatic park are adopted and construction begins as expected in 2013.

Mayor Noel Foster earlier said he anticipates sometime in the first half of new year residents will be asked in a referendum to approve a revenue bond issue to finance the center and park.

Revenues from a 2 percent sales tax on prepared food adopted in 1997 would be pledged toward retiring the bonds without the need for an addition tax, Foster indicated.

The $3.5 million generated thus far by the “hamburger tax” could be utilized to start development, Foster said, with the proposed bonds to be retired over 15 years using a portion of the tax collections.

Low interest rates in the bond markets make it feasible to act now without levying a new tax, he emphasized.

The 2013 budget includes a $100 per month raise for full-time city employees and a $50 a month hike for part-time workers.

A $50,000 capital expenditure was included for the fire sub-station under construction south of the intersection of Sheridan and Robin roads. Another capital allocation earmarked $60,000 for construction of a new municipal museum.

The total appropriation for salaries was $1.53 million, the largest single line item in the budget.

Aldermen placed the ordinance adopting the new budget on three readings and adopted it with no amendments.

The council also placed on three readings and adopted an ordinance requiring minimum energy standards for the design off new buildings and additions to existing structures. The standards are mandated by state law.

The ordinance, in effect, adopted the energy efficient standards outlined in the 2011 Arkansas Energy Code. The measure included an emergency clause, making the ordinance effective upon passage.

In other business Monday, the council:

— Approved the appointment of Patrecia Hargrove to the White Hall Planning Commission to fill an unexpired term ending Dec. 31, 2013;

— Reappointed Dane Reed to the planning commission for a term that expires Dec. 31, 2014;

— Reappointed Alderman David Beck to the planning commission for a term that expires Dec. 31, 2016;

— Reappointed Alderman Ken Smith to the planning commission for a term that expires Dec. 31, 2018; and

— Approved the membership of the Advertising and Promotion Commission and planning commission for 2013.

Victims of the elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn., were remembered, with Foster noting there would be an increased police presence at White Hall schools this week to ease concerns of parents and students.

Foster said Circuit Judge Rob Wyatt will administer the oath of office to council members at 10 a.m. Jan. 1 at City Hall.

Foster said City Call offices will be closed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Jan. 21 for the observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Robert E. Lee Day.

Because of the latter observances, the January council meeting will be held Jan. 22.