In what may have been the last meeting of the year for the Eureka Springs city council, aldermen reviewed the unchanged 2021 budget from the last meeting but did not vote on it. Instead, they focused on two new agenda items: location of hospital commission meetings and late fees on water/sewer utility bills.
Alderman Bob Thomas requested that council vote to ask the Hospital Commission to always hold their public meetings in the Auditorium in keeping with all the other city commissions. In the last year the Hospital Commission has changed meeting locations from the ECHO clinic on US62 to the hospital clinic on Norris Street, and then to Main Stage Theater on Main Street.
Mayor Butch Berry deferred to City Attorney Tim Weaver who said it would be allowable to request that of the commission. Berry said he did not believe a motion was necessary but would ask them without a vote from council. “I don’t mind asking them at all,” Berry said, “but if you want to make a motion you can.”
Alderman Susan Harman said it was previously asked that all commissions meet consistently in the same place. Harman said there is an importance placed on the recording of the meetings, and that handheld recording devices are sometimes difficult to hear and difficult to know who is speaking, as opposed to the professional sound system in the Auditorium.
Harman asked Berry if there was a reason why the Hospital Commission is not meeting in the Auditorium saying further, “I mean it’s been asked several times, so is there a particular reason why it doesn’t happen?”
“I have no idea, I’d have to ask, I don’t know,” Berry replied.
“That needs to be brought to this group’s attention regardless of who’s here in the new year,” Harman said. Harman made the motion to ask why the Hospital Commission is not meeting in the Auditorium. She said the commission controls a big piece of the city. “They are responsible for a very important financial resident component of the city, so I think in order for those meetings to be in a place that is accessible to all, and/or recorded properly, I would just make that motion.”
Thomas concurred and said he would like that motion stated with the following phrase included, “On behalf of the city council.”
Berry said by adding that phrase specifically it is clear that this request is not coming from just the mayor or a single alderman, but council as a whole. The amendment to the motion was seconded, and unanimously approved.