The Town of Cotton Valley passed an amended budget moving money from contract labor to payroll to hire someone to keep the town clean.
In Tuesday’s council meeting, aldermen unanimously approved the budget following a public hearing where the amendments were presented.
Town Clerk Michael Magee said they plan to stop using parish inmate labor to clean and mow; instead hiring someone to take care of those duties. He cited an increase in payment to the parish for trustees to keep the town clean as the reason for moving that money to payroll. The idea is to hire someone local and give two, possibly three, people a job, he said.
The parish increased their contract by $12,000 from $30,000 to $42,000, he said, and included fuel for the vehicles at $2,400 per year, totaling an annual cost $44,000.
The town will advertise a position and expect to hire someone by the end of February.
Mayor Joseph Alexander said the trustees do a lot for the town by picking up trash and cutting grass on town properties. He commended them for their work and warned citizens that the town is toughening up on its ordinances.
“On Cotton Valley Street, there were refrigerators, stoves, hot water heaters, everything dumped out there,” he said. “We cleaned that up, but if we catch you, we’re going to charge you to the max. We’ve got to have more pride in our city than what we have.”
Payroll now totals $174,000, with $90,000 from the general fund and $84,000 from the utility revenue.
Total expected revenue from utilities is $261,942, from sales tax revenue is $65,000, and from general fund revenue is $230,800. Expected general fund expenses totaled $212,550, utility expenses at $236,400 and sales tax expenses at $57,000.
In other news, aldermen approved:
The appointment of Forrest Craig Tripp to represent Cotton Valley on the North Webster Industrial Park board
The appointment of Mark Ford Certified Public Accounting Firm for the town
Hiring Cook and Morehart Certified Public Accounting Firm as the auditor for the town
Stuart McMahen, the town attorney, to preside over mayor’s court, and
The mayor to assess and make necessary changes to the current sewage lines that are not accessible to residents’ homes
In the monthly police report, Police Chief Terry Brown said they are working towards getting blighted property cleaned up. He said the goal is to take four to five per month and follow procedure by sending out letters giving property owners a set amount of time to get the property cleaned.
Brown also discussed stray animals, saying Cotton Valley has a leash law. While that law will be enforced, he and the council will be looking into arranging an agreement with a veterinarian to take the animals to once they are picked up.
He also said the two school zone lights at the school will need to be replaced. He will present the board of aldermen with quotes in March.
In other news, Alexander said he wants to begin using auto mechanics in Cotton Valley to service and repair the town’s vehicles, including police units. In March, a list of mechanics in Cotton Valley will be presented to aldermen to review.