April 20, 2011 Edition

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Hoxie continues to lose money
in water and sewer department

Leslie L. Ginn
Staff Writer

Mayor Lanny Tinker discussed water and sewer issues with the Hoxie City Council on Tuesday, April 12.

He reported that the water and sewer department is losing money monthly. In 2010, Hoxie had a $53,000 loss in the water department.

"We are slowly, but surely spending more than we are taking in," Tinker said.

Year to date, losses are about $1,500 with a projected year-end loss totaling $6,000. Tinker said they have taken measures to slow the money loss.

"The tourniquet is on, but the bleeding has not fully stopped yet," he said. "We are holding our head above water and not in dire straits, but the water and sewer department needs financial attention to stay out of trouble."

The water tower and filter structure are aging and decaying. The base cost with the upcoming new water system will be $2.05 per 1,000 gallons. This price does not include equipment and maintenance costs.

Tinker called for a special budget analysis meeting to look at the budget issues on April 26 at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. at Hoxie City Hall. Residents and council members are invited to attend either or both meetings to contribute ideas.

"Just a hard look at the facts tells me that we are going to need to raise water prices, but I want us to examine the budget in its entirety before settling on that decision," Tinker said. "One thing we must do is protect the rate changes for Hoxie residents that use little water and are usually on a fixed budget."

The city's spring cleanup drive was stressed, as well. Help was requested from Hoxie citizens on several levels. First, citizens need to use the dumpsters as intended (household trash goes in the small dumpster and large items like furniture and wood goes in the big dumpster).

Second, Tinker explained that people are putting their trash bags out too early (or in cans without lids) and stray animals are getting into the bags and spreading trash throughout neighborhoods.

"We have another problem with trash as well," Tinker said, "The trash barrels do not have holes drilled in the bottom and the rain water is making them too heavy for pickup. Bags are easier to remove. I have instructed sanitation workers to not pick up trash barrels that are too heavy to lift."

Volunteers were applauded for their help in improving Hoxie. Resident Ed Romine took care of bushes in his neighborhood. Adam Madden and Hunter Smith helped employees distribute spring cleanup brochures.

Richard Combs and family painted a city sign. The Baptist church has taken on cleaning Memphis Street from the railroad to the stop light. Redda Russell has also assisted in organizing the city ordinance records.

"We appreciate the help of these individuals," said Tinker. "And we need more volunteers to step forward, even for just a few hours." Willing volunteers are asked to contact city hall so their efforts can be recorded.

In an effort to conserve funds, Tinker informed the council that the decision has been made not to purchase a used backhoe until later. "The old backhoe is past its usefulness, and we just don't have the $60,000 plus to purchase another one at this time," said Tinker.

Inter-department cooperation will be needed to make use of present machinery for the city needs. Options to lease are also open if the needs arise.

Tinker updated the council on the new garbage truck.

"The garbage chassis is finally built. It is supposed to have the bed mounted next," Tinker said. "I am highly disappointed in the time this process has taken. We have someone calling every day to stay on top of the issue."

It was announced that Cassie Sapp is moving from the fire department to the water and sewer department. This leaves an opening for a paid full-time fire chief or paid fireman. Individuals can call city hall at 886-2742 for minimum qualifications. Kenny Jones moved to mosquito control from the water and sewer department. There is also an opening in sanitation.

The first assessment on Hoxie Streets has been made. The city has estimated spending approximately $100,000 on asphalt and labor to improve streets in 2011. An approach with a thin-set layer worked well and held up in 2010 and will be used this year, as well.

"The problem we face is that 70 percent of Hoxie streets fall into the criteria of needing improvement," Tinker said. "We can't do all of them this year. It is a process."

The Hoxie Police Department was praised for making nine drug arrests since April 1.

In other business, the following was announced:

  • Hoxie has made steps to improve drainage in Hoxie, especially in the Little White Oak section. "Some tiles have been cleaned; there's a lot more to go," said Tinker.

  • department heads attended budget training, and a clinic on bloodborne pathogens was held.

  • options are being explored to lower the bill associated with strays. Over the past two months, Hoxie has paid out a total of $1,000 in fees associated with catching, holding or euthanizing stray dogs.

  • the only motorized vehicles allowed on the Rails to Trails path are low-rise wheelchairs. It was explained that the pavement was not laid to support heavier vehicles.

  • the projected Brewer addition is on hold until updated plans are brought to the planning committee by David Onstead.

  • Hoxie High School was praised for their donation and help with a film projector.

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