The Sherwood City Council when it meets in late August will hear the second reading of a proposed ordinance that would increase the amount of money the municipal budget pays to retired elected city officials.
At the July 22 meeting of the city council, aldermen conducted a first reading of a proposed ordinance that would increase the benefit to $250 per month. Retired elected officials currently receive $125 per month to be used toward insurance premiums.
In July, the majority of the council wanted to bypass traditional council rules, also known as suspending its rules, and bring the issue to a third and final vote. However, six aldermen would have had to agree to suspend the rules.
The effort fell one vote short because only five supported suspending the rules, which is why it is only going up for a second reading when the council meets again on Aug. 26. Aldermen Ken Keplinger, Mary Jo Heye and Kevin Lilly voted against suspending the rules, while Aldermen Mike Sanders, Marina Brooks, Charles Harmon, Toni Butler and Tim McMinn supported bringing the issue to a final vote on July 22.
“Being an elected official is a privilege,” Keplinger said. “We volunteer to run. We know what we are getting and what we are getting into once we are elected.”
Heye added, “Is it customary in central Arkansas for retired part-time officials to get this benefit? Is this the norm?”
Brooks said some city officials have looked at increasing the benefit for years.
“We are trying to help some of the older previous people who are getting $125 to supplement their insurance,” Brooks said.
Harmon said the benefit was originally created in 1988 and paying $125 per month for retired elected officials was much more helpful to them now then because of substantially higher monthly premiums.
Brooks said there was a debate among some supporters if the current proposed ordinance was best.
Some individuals wanted to allow retirees over 50 to get the benefit. But the current proposal would allow individuals over 55 to get the benefit.
“We felt this was a workable compromise,” Brooks said.