Bauxite sells land to state highway department

The Bauxite City Council has approved a resolution to allow the sale of small amount of property to the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department.

In a regularly scheduled meeting of the council Monday night, the council members agreed to sell approximately 10 square feet of land to the Highway Department for $100.

Mayor Johnny McMahan said the state agency is interested in enlarging the Rock Island Railroad bridge by straightening out Arkansas 183. The property to be purchased from Bauxite is located past Arkansas Labeling on the left side of the highway, near Bryant.

McMahan said the agency currently is relocating utilities for the project.

"It is for the common good and I don't think there is any reason to fight this," McMahan said. "At one time they were thinking about a different route and I told them we could not pay to move the utilities, so they worked it out so that this will affect us very little."

Alderman Mona Struble stated, "It is fair market value what they are getting."

McMahan said, "I think they are offering us, in good faith, $100. But they are going to take it either way. We can either pass it or not pass it."

It was noted that the agency would seize the land through eminent domain if the council did not vote for the resolution authorizing the sale of the property.

Alderman Paula Matthews presented a motion to approve the resolution and authorize the mayor and city clerk to prepare the required paperwork. The motion was seconded by Alderman Brenda Haney and then approved by a vote of 3-0. Struble abstained from voting because she is an employee of the Highway Department.

In other business, the council members discussed what should be done in regard to the city's water and sewer rates.

During a July 21 meeting, the Arkansas Rural Water Association told the council members that without unless the rates are adjusted, Bauxite will no longer be able to maintain its system.

Alderman Karen Brooks recommended that the council amend the fees associated with late water payments and change fees. Brooks also recommended that the council look at raising both the water and sewer rates, specifically suggesting that business customers be charged a higher rate than residential customers.

In order to raise the sewer rates, the council must hold a public hearing. The council members tentatively scheduled a public hearing for Oct. 20 at 6 p.m. before the regularly scheduled council meeting.
McMahan said, "I believe everyone realizes that something needs to be done. A workshop might be the place the start."

Matthews suggested the council members email back and forth about raising the water rates to brainstorm ideas. While no decision can be made outside of a public meeting, the council members may discuss the issue of raising prices outside of a workshop or council meeting.