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LINCOLN -- Lincoln City Council adopted the 2020 budget at its Dec. 17 meeting, purchased a pump for the west sewer lift station and approved a resolution to turn over about $62,000 of unrefunded and unclaimed water deposits to the state auditor.

Unclaimed Deposits

City Council member Johnny Stowers brought up the issue of what to do with unclaimed and unrefunded water deposits about two years ago and discussions have been ongoing since then on how to dispose of the money.

In most cases, these are unclaimed water deposits that are many years old -- some possibly 40 and 50 years old -- and the city does not have a record of the person who paid the deposit.

"We can't put human beings with the money," City Attorney Steve Zega said after the meeting. "Now, we have a process in place to keep that from happening."

The resolution states the city has $65,834 in water and sewer deposits and these are deposits that were collected before a 2017 ordinance was adopted, requiring water customer sewer deposits to be refunded when the account is closed and paid in full.

Rhonda Hulse, city business manager, has tried to give the money or a report about the money to the state auditor's office under the Arkansas Unclaimed Property Act but the office would not accept the money.

Finally, Zega, on behalf of the city, filed a lawsuit in July against State Auditor Andrea Lea in Washington County Circuit Court to determine the proper disposition of the money.

"I wanted the court to tell us what to do with the money," Zega said.

The complaint asked the court for a judgment on whether the Arkansas Unclaimed Property Act applies in this case, and if not, where does the money belong, with the city or with someone else?

After being notified of the suit, the state auditor's office agreed to accept the unclaimed deposits in an attempt to distribute them to the proper owners, the resolution says.

The resolution authorizes the city to turn over the money to the auditor, except a 5% contingency in case someone shows up in the future asking for a water deposit.

2020 City Budget

The city's 2020 budget projects $469,970 in revenues and $412,572 in expenses for the general fund with an estimated profit of $57,000.

Projected revenue for the general fund includes $144,000 from the county sales tax, $115,000 from property taxes and $113,000 from franchise taxes. Expenses include $152,000 for gross wages, about $45,000 for professional fees, such as accounting, legal fees and prosecutor fees, and $16,700 for parks and recreation.

The police budget projects $380,700 in revenue and $468,358 in expenses. Revenue includes $218,000 from the county sales tax, $56,000 from Lincoln Consolidated School District for the school resource officers and a transfer of $44,000 from the water department.

The city's water department has a $2 million budget; library, $227,650; sanitation, $187,200; street, $43,200.

The city's 2020 budget has money for a new police vehicle, an electronic ticketing system for police officers and a dichlorination upgrade for the water system.

Other Business

The $14,941 expenditure for a pump for the west lift station will replace an old pump that is near failing. The city is purchasing the pump from West-Ark Electric Inc.

The Council approved a resolution giving its support to House Joint Resolution 1018 of 2019, which proposes amending the state Constitution to continue the levy of a .5% sales and use tax for state highways, county roads and bridges and city streets.

In other news, it was announced the city received $23,844 in sales tax revenues for the November distribution. Of this about $7,000 was dedicated to the library and about $1,800 to parks and recreation.

General News on 01/08/2020

Print Headline: Lincoln Council Adopts 2020 Budget

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