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Bonus!

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The Fayetteville City Council met Tuesday, March 15. You can see the back of Northwest Arkansas Times reporter Joel Walsh’s head in this photo.

Council rewards city staff for cost-cutting work

By Richard Davis
TFW Staff Writer

Action!

Aldermen unanimously approved rewarding city staff for their cost-cutting efforts that helped turn an expected budget shortfall into a surplus.

In words tinged with emotion, Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan thanked the City Council at the Tuesday, March 15 meeting for their support of workers who “clean floors, they do sanitation … if there’s a fire in the middle of the night, they kick down the doors …” and much more. The council fully backed the plan to give permanent full-time staff, employed for at least one year, a $500 bonus and permanent part-time staff a bonus based on their hours. City employees who were due merit raises in the last half of 2009 will also now receive those retroactively and ongoing, though the pay freeze otherwise remains in effect.

The expansion of First Thursday also zipped through the approval process with the council voting unanimously to suspend normal rules and go directly to a third and final reading of the ordinance. With aldermen’s blessing, the evening of art and more will now encompass and close East and Mountain streets on the square. Here’s hoping Fayetteville’s “Green Man” comes out again for more antics.

Left On First Reading

The council discussed but left a few proposals regarding pedicabs, taxicabs and advertising as relating to the sign ordinance on their first readings.

▲ Alderman Matthew Petty brought a proposal that would allow pedicabs to expand their services in a couple of areas. One part would allow pedicabs to operate on streets with 35 mph speed limits at the discretion of the Transportation Division. This would allow pedicabs to transport people from their vehicles to Razorback Stadium on game days.
Another part of the proposal would allow pedicabs to operate on much of Fayetteville’s trail system, possibly offering residents a transportation alternative for shopping and more.

▲ A second Petty offering would allow pedicabs to display small advertisements on the backs of the vehicles. The pedicabs would have to remove the ads on the trail system, if trail access becoms allowed.

▲ Going completely in the opposite direction, another proposed ordinance would revoke the ability for taxicabs to display advertising on the vehicles. Buses, however, would not be stripped of their advertising ability.

The advertising issue provided the biggest back-and-forth conversation of the night. While the addition of ads to the back of pedicabs could bring in more revenue for the service providers, city attorney Kit Williams fears the measure could be another chip out of the teeth of Fayetteville’s tightly controlled sign ordinance. Council member Sarah Lewis said her constituents have repeatedly asked her to keep the sign ordinance strong.

In Other Business

▲ The council whizzed through the consent agent, approving a variety of fairly standard housekeeping issues

▲ The council waived the competitive bidding requirement to approve a $715,560 contract for natural gas service with Arkansas Western Gas. Why? Well, who else are they going to get it from. Kind of a gimme really.

▲ One gentleman who arrived late to the meeting brought with him an overly generous cloud of Old Spice particles.

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