Council chews over feral animals

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The agenda was short at city council meeting Monday, Oct. 12. There were no public comments; aldermen discussed humane solutions for handling feral cats in the city limits and discussed ways to increase awareness of city residents to buy a license for their pets.

Aldermen discussed adopting programs similar to “Spay Arkansas” for surgical sterilization at a low cost, catch-and-release programs for spaying and neutering feral cats, and placing signs on pet-poop disposal stations to remind pet owners of their responsibility to attain a pet license to promote timely vaccinations to prevent rabies and distemper. Alderman Susan Harman said rabies is a huge concern and “Once you get rabies, that’s kinda it.” 

Transit System Director Ken “Smitty” Smith provided a report during a public hearing as a requirement of the Federal Transit Administration and the Arkansas Department of Transportation. Both organizations contribute to Eureka’s transit system, and Smitty said, “There are many hoops to jump through to receive the federal funds, but without them there would be no transit in Eureka Springs.”

The transit system has 12 trolleys and four Share-a-Ride vans which have ADA lifts for the disabled. Annual operational costs for transit are budgeted at $673,500, and Smith said, “Total FTA funding requested for administration and operation expenses are $485,764 with Transit needing to cover a match obligation of $289,741. We do receive funding from the State of Arkansas through the Transit Trust Fund in the amount of $167,600.”  

Smith said the remaining expenses, after receiving federal and state funding, are covered by advertising, sales, parking revenues and tram tours. “Transit, in the last four years, has been able to cover our match obligations without receiving help from the city,” said Smith. 

Budget committee suggestion fizzles

Alderman Harry Meyer said he would like council to consider establishing a Budget Committee to bring more focus to the details saying, “I think it is a worthwhile effort.”  The mayor and alderman Bob Thomas disagreed and stated they believed that obligation fell on all aldermen and the mayor, not a committee. 

Mayor Butch Berry acknowledged he did not place an item on the agenda regarding the hospital commission although it was asked of him at the last meeting. Berry stated it would be “soon,” but also said it may not be on the next agenda. 

The next council meeting is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 26, at 6 p.m. in the AUD.

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