January 7, 2015 Edition

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Hoxie to join county dispatch

Megan Heyl
Staff Writer

The Hoxie City Council voted to close down the Hoxie dispatch in favor of having dispatch services go through the county during a special meeting held on Dec. 30.

The decision was made based on budgetary concerns surrounding the city's struggling finances. Switching to county dispatch will save the city approximately $42,000 annually or about $200,000 over the five-year contract.

The closing of the dispatch will eliminate the need for one full-time and several part-time dispatchers on the Hoxie payroll. It will also save the city money on training employees for these positions, which received high turnover rates.

The dispatch was shut down by Thursday, Jan. 1, and according to Mayor Lanny Tinker there should be no difference in the quality of police, fire or emergency services. Tinker said there are no plans to change or consolidate the police or fire departments as a result of this shift.

Hoxie citizens are asked to call the Lawrence County office at 886-2525 for non-emergencies. For general police department information such as dog calls, code enforcement issues or other questions, call 886-2747 or 886-2231 during working hours, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Tinker said there will be some cost in upgrading security at the city hall due to the shut down of the 24-hour dispatch center but he expects those costs to be low.

City drops Intermodal funding

The 2015 budget was passed with the necessary adjustments needed for the change in dispatch. The budget also reflected the city's inability to remain a member of the Northeast Arkansas Regional Intermodal Facilities Authority due to financial constraints.

Aldermen expressed their support for the organization and agreed to have a letter sent to show their appreciation for what the Intermodal Authority has done for the area.

Alderman Tim Taylor said he hopes the council can revisit joining Intermodal in the future.

The budget committee projected a shortage of about $65,000 when making out the initial 2015 budget. The change in dispatch and the $10,000 saved from Intermodal membership dues will offset most of that.

Also at the meeting:

  • Tinker announced that Donnie Stewart of Bay has been hired as the water/wastewater superintendant. Stewart has 26 years of experience and holds several class 3 licenses.

  • the council accepted a bid to sell the city's backhoe for $15,000, which will help offset the cost of a $43,000 bid the council accepted on the purchase of a compact excavator.

  • Alderman Kenneth Quarry was congratulated for serving over 40 years on the council. Council members waited for him to call for his final adjournment and shook his hand after the meeting ended.

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