TEXARKANA, Ark. (KTAL/KMSS) – Pay parity for civil service employees was again center stage Monday night in Texarkana, Ark.
At a regularly scheduled board meeting, an ordinance to revise competitive pay rules inched forward. The proposal comes amid a lawsuit concerning police officer salaries.
In the 1990’s, voters approved a tax to ensure those salaries are equal to their counterparts on the Texas-side, which is known as pay parity. The lawsuit claims the city mismanaged the tax revenue, and the city has filed to have a judge deem the tax unconstitutional.
Monday night, the ordinance was approved on a second reading, though Mayor Allen Brown voted no. Allen said he wants to make a last attempt to close a couple of loopholes in the ordinance.
The passage on the second reading of the ordinance opened the door to public comments on the matter. David Haak, who identified himself as a spokesperson for the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said the plan did not have their support. “There’s been no discussion with the other two parties, which is the plaintiffs and the police association,” he said.
Asst. Mayor Linda Teeters voted in favor of the plan on both readings. She said Haak’s comments did not surprise her. “I’m going on what’s best for the city, and what’s best for the police and fire, and I was elected to be a steward of this city, and I am addressing what the judge instructed us to do”
The proposal did not garner enough votes to make it through a third reading, because, in addition to Brown, board member Laney Harris also voted no.
The proposal moves on to the board’s next meeting on Aug 19.
Monday night, the board also considered an ordinance establishing an entertainment district downtown, which would encompass about 14 blocks. The state legislature earlier this year passed a law allowing cities to create their own areas which would allow open containers outside of a business.
Several board members had questions and requested a workshop on the matter. That item also moves to the board’s August 19 meeting.