Mulberry City Council members discussed raises versus bonuses for city employees at their monthly meeting Sept. 17.

An issue of a 3 percent cost of living wage for city employees that was tabled in August was brought up at the September meeting by Mulberry Mayor Gary Baxter, according to the unapproved minutes from the meeting.

Alderman Johnny Ray Kimes suggested the city provide Christmas bonuses for employees rather than raises, to save the city almost half the cost, he said.

Kimes suggested providing a $500 bonus to full-time employees and $250 to part-time.

According to Kimes’ calculations, the raise would cost the city about $13,000 per year, while the bonuses would be about $7,000.

No motion was made on the suggestions, but council members decided to discuss the issue in a budget meeting with Baxter as he prepares for the 2014 city budget.

Also discussed was the ongoing search for money to finance a basketball court at city park.

Mulberry already has received a $20,000 matching grant from United Way and $5,300 grant from former State Rep. Leslie Milam Post, and are currently looking for another $15,000 to meet the United Way match.

City officials have applied for a $15,000 grant from the Arkansas Department of Rural Services, but mayor’s assistant Beck Shockley said she received a call from the department asking about granting the city $12,500 instead.

Shockley told board members that she assured the Rural Services representative that the city would still pursue building the basketball court.

Resident Bob Muntz said that if the grant was awarded the Mulberry Lions Club may be able to help with some money.

Council members also approved a variance to zoning ordinance No. 142 for property located at 231 W. Third St. from Residential 1 to Residential 3, contingent upon the purchase of the property by Ty Floyd.