BY RICK WRIGHT –
“Mena has a lot going on for a town our size and a lot to be proud of,” said Mena Mayor George L. McKee. “We have many of the amenities of a large city, yet the feel of a small town.”
Mayor McKee was the featured speaker at the Mena Lion’s Club meeting Friday, August 5th. He thanked the Lion’s Club for inviting him to talk about Mena. McKee gave the Lion’s Club members a few updates of what has been happening in Mena this year and some future plans.
“I am very pleased to say that our sales tax revenues continue to increase each year over the year before, for the last 10 years. And that’s good,” said McKee. “You can’t find very many cities in Arkansas that can say that.”
“The City Council approved an operating budget of $4,204,485.00 for 2016.” said McKee. “We recently received and outfitted two new 2016 police cars. They were bought locally and it cost us a little over $26,000 per vehicle.” He said they also recently added a new one-ton truck and a two-ton dump truck to the Street Department fleet.
“At the end of last year, we received a new fire truck,” said McKee. “We usually get one about every seven years. Usually, we borrow the money and pay it out but we had the money to pay cash. I play it pretty safe with the budget. I watch it daily,” said McKee. “In bad times like this you’ve got to be prepared in case it takes a real down turn. So we are doing real well there.”
“The downtown streetscape project is nearly complete,” said McKee. Plans are to have the lights installed next week. This project cost $511,337.00 of which $150,000.00 was paid for by grant funds. The City has ordered and will soon be updating all the streetlights in the old part of the streetscape and in Janssen Park with new globes. “We also purchased all LED lights and they last a lot longer than bulbs. Those bulbs are expensive and we’ve been replacing them every week.”
“The City plans to continue our street overlay program this year, spending approximately $400,000.00,” said the Mayor. “We opened the bids on the asphalt last night. Over the last three years we’ve boosted that up, spending a little more money on the overlay program. We have the same problem as the state and federal highways, there’s never enough money to fix them all. So we go with what’s traveled the most.” He also explained that they will be continuing the residential sidewalk improvement program, spending approximately $100,000.00. “We’ve got sidewalks that are broken up and people can trip on them. We want to fill the gaps in our sidewalks. Again, we never have enough money to do them all, but we’re working at it each year.”
The Mayor went on to say that construction of the new road “North Morgan Street” off of Highway 71 to Geyer Drive is expected to get underway sometime next year, as soon as the state has completed the engineering, for the third time. “The state said that we could get started on it in April, but now they’ve changed that to next year. So, we are just waiting on them.”
“The Mayor’s Office is open to everyone and I always welcome your comments, concerns and suggestions,” said McKee.