The Pine Bluff City Council voted Monday to make an extra payment to the mayor's assistant, but postponed making decisions on the 2012 budget or a proposal to take over ownership of the Saenger Theatre.
The Pine Bluff City Council voted Monday to make an extra payment to the mayor’s assistant, but postponed making decisions on the 2012 budget or a proposal to take over ownership of the Saenger Theatre.
The council voted 5-1 in favor of paying $1,528 to assistant to the mayor Ted Davis for overseeing Animal Control from sometime around October through the end of the year and an added $224 in Social Security and retirement contributions associated with the extra pay.
Alderman Steven Mays voted against the item. Alderman Bill Brumett and Alderman Wayne Easterly were absent.
Mays said he likes Davis and is sure that Davis is doing a good job, but said he believes the city should be spending money on improving parks, streets and other items that will directly benefit the public.
“In the midst of all this, the citizens are still getting neglected,” Mays said.
“In what sense, sir?” Mayor Carl A. Redus said.
“All these budget adjustments, all this spending, the money just stays inside these four walls (at city hall). The parks still look bad, the streets look bad, I mean, look around when you go outside,” Mays said.
Redus said more streets are being resurfaced now than in the past 20 years.
“So you don’t know what you’re talking about,” Redus said. “Parks got at least $2 million worth of work completed in the parks and in equipment. So before you speak, you should get your facts together.”
Mays said its not about facts, it’s about the reality you can see when you look outside.
The funding for Davis’ compensation comes from unused money budgeted for salaries within the Animal Control Department.
Attached to the legislation was a copy of a page from the municipal employee handbook, which states that an employee who is required to assume the duties of another employee in a higher pay grade is entitled to acting-status compensation if the position is held for a month or more. The compensation rate is set at a 10 percent increase to the employee’s salary or the minimum of the pay grade for the assumed position, whichever is more. When the employee is no longer is responsible for the increased duties, the pay increase ceases, according to the handbook.
Redus has said in previous interviews that he thinks he put Davis in the position on Oct. 1, but he was not sure. Davis also did not remember.
Previously, the council approved a total of $3,288 in extra salary, Social Security and retirement contributions to Police Chief Brenda Davis-Jones for overseeing the department from February through September. Redus had proposed merging the Animal Control and Police departments, but the council voted down that idea Sept. 6.
The council has not voted to pay extra to Sgt. Michael Jenkins, a police officer who worked in the Animal Control Department for much of the year. Alderman Irene Holcomb brought that issue up during the Ways and Means Committee meeting Monday, saying she hadn’t made a final decision as to whether she thought Jenkins should be paid extra, but that she felt the council should discuss it further.
Redus has said in previous meetings that he put Davis in charge of managing the Animal Control Department while the mayor’s office evaluates how the department should be structured and who should lead it. Redus has said he expects to make a recommendation to the council in early 2012.
In other business, the council was expected to vote on the 2012 budget. Holcomb said the vote was postponed because of the absence Brumett and Easterly.
The city has until Jan. 31 to approve a budget, Finance Director Steve Miller said.
One of the key decisions for the council to make is what kind of raises to give city employees in 2012.
Redus proposes a 4.1 percent raise for most city employees, an 8 percent raise for police sergeants and lieutenants and a 5.5 percent raise for minimum-wage employees. Alderman Thelma Walker and Holcomb propose an $1,800 raise for all employees.
In other business, the council also postponed making a decision as to whether to accept a donation of the historic Saenger Theatre. Several of the aldermen said they did not feel that they knew enough about the proposal to make a decision and would like more time to consider it.
Jack Stradley — executive director of Old Town Theatre Centre Inc., which would like to donate the theater — gave a presentation about the theater and the proposal to the council, and Historic District Commission members Dee Herring and Dave Sadler spoke, urging the council to accept the donation.
Alderman Charles Boyd said he can schedule a special meeting of the Public Works Committee so that the aldermen can ask more questions. However, Boyd urged the aldermen to come to a decision quickly. Part of the proposal to accept ownership of the theater would involve the city donating $15,000 toward an estimated $35,000 project to repair the theater’s roof.
Boyd said a decision needs to be made so that work on the roof can begin before the theater is further damaged by the water leaking into the building.