City & County

City absorbing health insurance hike for employees, wins $45K bid for dog park

The City of Arkadelphia will be paying an additional $133,000 in annual insurance premiums for its employees following an action Tuesday from the Board of Directors.

Currently the city pays $501,000 into the Arkansas Municipal Health Benefit Plan. Last week City Manager Gary Brinkley was informed there would be an increase in premiums. 

Brinkley said the city had the finances to absorb the cost. Mayor Scott Byrd asked for a worst-case scenario should the Move Arkadelphia Forward sales tax fail when it comes up for vote in two years. “It would be devastating, catastrophic,” Brinkley responded, noting there would likely be layoffs and city systems affected.

Directors discussed three scenarios but ultimately opted to absorb 100% of the cost, bringing the annual sum to $634,000. Byrd’s motion to fund the cost received a second from Assistant Mayor Roland Gosey, and the measure passed unanimously.

In other business, directors approved a $65,600 change order to the Arkadelphia Water Utilities expansion in Gum Springs that will connect its existing line south to an industrial super site location, across U.S. Highway 67.

Directors also heard the third and final reading of a pair of ordinances raising water and wastewater rates for Arkadelphia residents and wholesale customers beginning in January 2023. Directors said they received no feedback from residents regarding the proposed rate increases.

The board heard the second reading of an ordinance adopting electrical codes.

In routine business, Byrd asked about the cost of the lot on Millcreek Drive that is expected to become a dog park. Directors had previously given Brinkley approval to negotiate the land deal, capping the total at $100,000.

Brinkley said the city entered a bid of $45,000 and won, giving engineers and the city the opportunity to move forward on the Barkadelphia project.