The Bauxite City Council approved a long-range plan for the city's existing public water system during a regular council session Monday night. Gary Beck of the water department had spoken to the council about this plan during in a May 19 meeting.
The plan is required under section VII.H of the Arkansas Rules and Regulations Pertaining to Public Water systems.
The plan must be updated at least every five years and must cover a planning period of at least 10 years.
A number of answers to specific questions are required to be in compliance with the plan. The requirements were received in March of 2014. During the May 19 meeting, Mayor Johnny McMahan suggested that a special workshop be held to discuss the plan and answer all of the required questions.
The workshop was scheduled for May 28 but was canceled by McMahan after council members Paula Matthews, Karen Brooks, and Mona Struble requested an emergency meeting for the same day to fill a vacant council position left by Alderman Allison Cain.
Matthews stated previously, "We requested a meeting the day after the conference because we were already going to be there for a workshop anyway. To no surprise, McMahan not only ignored the special meeting request, but he canceled our workshop all together, which was very important regarding water/sewer paperwork, and he also told city employees not to unlock the doors for the council to be able to have the workshop."
Struble explained that a workshop is not a meeting. "The mayor nor all the council have to be in attendance, so if he was not available for the workshop that he had put in place and even reminded all council members of the day before (at the conference) and the day of the workshop, but the council was available and had already preplanned their schedules, why keep us locked out?"
At Monday's meeting, Beck said he hoped the council would approve the plan so it could be turned in today. If the plan had not been turned in, then the city of Bauxite would be out of compliance, he said.
McMahan said he reviewed the plan and did not see anything out of line.
Struble said she had not been able to review the document in its entirety prior to the start of the council meeting, stating, "I'm not allowed to use the city computer."
Struble noted that McMahan would not allow her to use the city computer and had locked her out so she was unable to fully review the document.
Since Bauxite does not have a water board, the mayor and members of the council act as the city's water board for the city.
Struble said she isn't willing to put her name on a document without fully reviewing it, and Matthews and Brooks agreed.
The aldermen decided to review the plan in its entirety during the council session, make amendments as necessary, and pass the document with revisions so that it could be turned in to the Arkansas Department of Health and the city remain compliant.
McMahan said to Struble, "You didn't know a lot of these answers and I didn't know a lot of these answers. I'm sure we can always modify if something needs to be changed."
The mayor stated that the current water rates do not allow for maintenance of the system and said, "I would say there is a water rate increase out there."
The city will wait for recommendations on a possible increase in water rates from the Arkansas Rural Water Association.
Alderman Brenda Haney presented a motion to accept the plan and it was approved unanimously.
Beck said, "You are agreeing you are going to address issues with the water and sewer."
The mayor concluded discussion of the issue saying, "We reserve the right to make modifications in the future."