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City officials discuss Public Works vacancies

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TEXARKANA, Ark. -

The City of Texarkana, Arkansas will decide Monday night whether they can afford to replace several vacant positions in the Public Works department.
    
As part of the 2014 budget, board members approved a resolution that requires departments to get approval before filling any vacancies.
    
Some city officials have concerns about where the money will come from and how it will affect street repairs.  
    
While there are now several vacancies in the Public Works office, Mayor Wayne Smith says they should consider how important each position is to the city before making any decision for hiring.

"Certainly there are positions on the agenda that we can't afford not to fill," said Smith. "The second issue is, where is the money? Is it already in the budget? Can we move it from another area, or do we have to dip into our reserves?"
 
If the board uses the money from the general fund for salaries, Smith says there would not be any funds left for street repairs.

He says Public Works is suppose to benefit from a half-cent state sales tax that voters approved in 2012 that will be in effect until 2023.

The city will receive about a half a million dollars a year.

"If we don't use that money for street repairs, then when the 10 years expires, we still have problems with our infrastructure," said Mayor Smith.
 
While he supports the need for employees in Public Works, Smith says addressing the future needs of maintaining the streets should be a priority.

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