MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING
FORREST CITY CITY COUNCIL
FORREST CITY, ARKANSAS
April 21, 2015
The City Council of Forrest City, Arkansas, met in regular session on April 21, 2015. Mayor Bryant called the meeting to order at 6:00 p.m. Alderman Fields offered prayer after which the Pledge of Allegiance was recited. The following answered roll call: Mayor Bryant, Clerk Cochran, Attorney Cline, and City Council members: Williams, Echols, Hollowell, Breeding, Fields, Capps, and Oswalt. Alderman Twillie came in at 6:18 p.m.
Alderman Williams made a motion to approve the minutes of April 7, 2015 regular meeting. Alderman Echols questioned the lack of a vote in the minutes on a recommendation made by Alderman Twillie. The minutes clearly stated after a second and discussion there was a vote. Motion second by Alderman Capps. Roll Call: All Ayes.
REPORT OF COMMITTEES
DEPARTMENT HEADS REPORTS
There were none.
Attorney Cline read A Resolution To Amend The City Of Forrest City’s Personnel Policy Manual And For Other Purposes – Funeral Or Bereavement Leave.
Alderman Oswalt made the motion to adopt the resolution. Second by Alderman Fields. Alderman Echols stated she remembered the discussion, but she did not remember the two weeks. Alderman Oswalt stated the wording “no later than two weeks” was added to clear up some confusion. Roll Call: All Ayes.
Coin Operated Machines Ordinance
Alderman Capps stated he passed the ordinance out to the council last month for their review and to make any necessary changes. He also stated that he asked Attorney Cline to look over the ordinance for any mistakes.
Alderman Breeding asked Attorney Cline, before the ordinance is read, if he had any changes or recommendations that needed to be made. Attorney Cline stated there is one provision in the ordinance that gives him a little problem, on page three the section on license fees. He thought the fees were a pretty significant amount, which is far in excess of any other community that he could find that has these licenses. His concerns would be that although the city has the authority to regulate the gaming devices, he thought the city could run into a problem if the city actually suppresses, stops, or put an unreasonable burden on what would be a lawful business. But could not tell the council a reasonable amount to place on the machines.
Alderman Breeding asked Attorney Cline if there were any Attorney General‘s opinion on the matter at this time. Attorney Cline stated not on that specifically. He looked and he did not find any information. Attorney Cline stated, if the council is going to stay with that amount, he advised to consider adding a severability clause which would say “if one portion of this ordinance is found to be illegal or unenforceable, the rest of the ordinance remains in effect.”
Otherwise, if some court was to find that the amount was too much, that portion of the ordinance would be unenforceable and the whole ordinance would not be thrown out. He said if the council wants to read it for the first reading tonight but he would advise not to pass the ordinance; he would continue to do research.
April 21, 2015 Minutes cont.
Alderman Breeding stated he has said for many years, morality cannot be legislated. He stated he would like for it to be put in the law, if that place of business accepts EBT cards, then that business would not be allowed to have the machines.
Alderman Capps stated when he first started the research, the state of Arkansas had what was called the Chucky Cheese law; now there is the Dave and Buster law. The whole concept of those laws was that someone could go into those businesses and put a coin into a machine and win out tickets which could be traded for a toy. That is an area that the businesses who have the machines have abused. They have the toys up front but tickets are being cashed in for cash and that is gambling.
He said the state law states a business can have the machines. The machines have to be listed on personnel property tax; a $5.00 state stamp has to be placed on each machine, and sales tax has to be paid on the money from the machines. He also stated there is no way to monitor all the money that is being put in the machines. He said he feels the city has the right to set the fees for licenses. If that business does not want to pay the $1,000, then that business does not need the machines.
Alderman Twillie agreed with Alderman Breeding to legislate morality is impossible. He said the city can pass an ordinance and make it a law, but if there is not a built-in way to enforce the law, then there is a grey area. Alderman Twillie said, “If we know that’s wrong, all we’re doing now is jacking the prices up on the do-righters but doing nothing to those who are doing wrong. If we decided to go that route, we need to hire someone to make sure that we administer what we say we’re going to do.” Alderman Twillie stated he did not think the city should add more laws to the police department when they cannot monitor the laws already on the books.
Alderman Breeding said he thought the provisions were built into the ordinance with the exception of any additional help. The city has a code enforcement officer who could go by and check the machines and she has the authority to write tickets. He stated there is any number of people that could site the businesses or even shut them down if there are not proper documents for that place of business.
Mayor Bryant stated it is self-defeating when the police department makes an arrest, when the owners go to court they are fined $1,000 and given their machines back. He stated it cost more money to store the machines than it is worth.
Alderman Twillie asked Mayor Bryant by passing the ordinance would that change the situation.
Mayor Bryant stated if the ordinance is passed then it could be enforced and the city would benefit from the revenues.
Alderman Capps stated there would be other fines and penalties if the businesses do not abide by the law.
Alderman Breeding asked if the ordinance is passed in its present form, would the policing be limited to the City of Forrest City or could it also be done by St. Francis County deputies and Arkansas State Police. The council confirmed that it could.
Alderman Capps stated he would table the ordinance until the next meeting for farther discussion.
Resolution – Forrest City Water Resolutions
Mr. Murdock asked Attorney Cline to address the comments from the Natural Resources Coordinator concerning the solar project.
Attorney Cline stated that he and Mr. Murdock spoke with the gentleman from Natural Resources about the resolution of intent. He mentioned at the special meeting that his concerns with the resolution of intent is that it states that the city intends to fund this project with tax-exempt bonds, and at this point, that is not the city’s intention. Attorney Cline said he and Mr. Murdock explained that to the gentleman, and he said he had no problems with the resolution. In fact, the gentleman explained the purpose of the resolution. It is put in place so that if the city incurs cost, such as engineering cost, which would certainly be necessary if the city goes through with the bond at some point. The city then can reimburse itself through the proceeds of the tax-exempt bonds; this is basically an IRS resolution.
Attorney Cline said as he explained to the gentlemen that he still do not quite understand why the resolutions are necessary at this point, but his bottom line was that the resolutions are necessary as part of the package for applying for the grant.
April 21, 2015 Minutes cont.
Mr. Murdock further explained that the resolution is like an insurance policy. There is nothing that says the city has to utilize the tax funding. In the event that the city get down the road and
have to use this funding and do not have the resolution, then the IRS rule will prohibit the city from reimbursing itself from the tax bond.
Alderman Twillie stated it sounded like a blanket to him.
Alderman Capps stated he did not have a problem with keeping it simple, but he would like to see some hard numbers in the near future.
Mr. Murdock stated,” Prior to getting to the point when the city gets ready to consummate the project, he will have all the technical guys on the literature cover with PHD’s, PE’s behind their names, the accountants, and everybody else will come to satisfy the council regards to the technical and economic merits for the project.”
Alderman Fields told Mr. Murdock that she thought he told the council that passing the resolutions are some of the things that are needed to be put in place in order to apply for the grant and nothing was binding. Mr. Murdock stated that is correct.
Attorney Cline read A Resolution Designating And Authorizing The Mayor And Manager Of The Forrest City Water Treatment Plant & Waste Water Plant Facility to Execute Certain Documents in Connection With The Drinking Water State Revolving Fund & The Clean Water Revolving Fund Loan Program Administered By The Arkansas Natural Resources Commission Alderman Twillie made the motion to adopt the resolution. Second by Alderman Fields. Roll Call: Alderman Williams, Echols, Twillie, Fields, and Capps All Ayes.
Alderman Hollowell, Breeding, and Oswalt All Said No.
Attorney Cline read A Resolution Of Intent Regarding The Forrest City Water Treatment Plant & Waste Water Treatment Facility System Improvement Project Alderman Twillie made a motion to adopt the resolution. Second by Alderman Fields. Roll Call: Alderman Williams, Echols, Twillie, Fields, and Capps All Ayes.
Alderman Hollowell, Breeding, and Oswalt All Said No.
Ordinance Raising Mayor’s Spending Authority Per State Law to $20,000.00
Mayor Bryant stated the reason the ordinance is needed, is that the Forrest City Water Utility now falls under the umbrella of the city, there are more invoices going over the $10,000.00. Alderman Twillie stated he would like for the council to deal with a stipulation as it relates to water utility since it is in that area. But the city itself will not have that many situations where over $10,000.00 is needed; since the city meets twice a month. Alderman Twillie then stated he would like to see the emphasis put on the water utility giving them a limit up to $20,000.00.
Alderman Fields stated would it make a difference if a blanket was done to cover the whole city, the money would only be used in a situation where it is needed. Mayor Bryant stated just read the ordinance for the first reading and then discuss it later.
Attorney Cline Read An Ordinance To Amend Purchases Ordinance (Ordinance NO. 1863), To Define Publication Requirements In Competitive Bidding; And For Other Purposes; And Declaring An Emergency sponsored by Alderman Hollowell.
Mayor Bryant stated that was the first reading, if there is not a motion to suspend the rules, then everyone can bring comments at the next meeting.
Attorney Cline read A Resolution Authoring Increase In Pay of Clerk/Treasurer By $600.00 Per Year Effective January l, 2014. Alderman Oswalt made a motion to adopt the resolution.
Second by Alderman Hollowell.
Alderman Echols asked if the $600.00 was above and beyond the $0.50 per hour raise.
April 21, 2015 Minutes cont.
Mayor Bryant stated per auditors, it was an illegal raise. It was put in the budget under expenses. He said the raise is actually money the city pays annually for membership in civic organization. The decision by the auditors this year, was in conflict with decisions made by past auditors.
He said in the past, the city has paid the dues directly to the club but were told by auditor that the money had to go through payroll for tax purposes. He said this situation is not new, the auditors told us to do it one way years ago, but he did not like it, so he stopped using the money for his dues, but the clerk continued.
Alderman Echols then asked if the $600.00 was used in prior years. Mayor Bryant said yes, but he stop using the money that was allotted to him. He was a member of the Loin Club and the clerk is still a member of the Kiwanis Club.
Attorney Cline stated the city has been paying the dues, but now the auditors are saying the city cannot do that. The money has to be given to the person so taxes can be withheld, then the person pay their own dues. Alderman Oswalt stated the auditors have changed the rule three times in the last few years. After discussion Roll Call: All Ayes.
There were no street stripping bids.
There were no recreation uniform bids.
Mayor Bryant requested permission to re-bid street stripping. Alderman Williams made the motion second by Alderman Twillie. Roll Call: All Ayes.
Mayor Bryant requested permission to re-bid recreation uniforms. Alderman Hollowell made the motion second by Alderman Williams. Roll Call: All Ayes.
Mayor Bryant stated that he would like to meet with the budget committee to go over some of the items that there are specs on and look at some other equipment purchases.
Mayor Bryant stated he had another resolution to read that is not on the agenda.
Attorney Cline read A Resolution Designating Mayor’s Administrative Assistant, Glynis Ross, As Custodian And Signatory of Crime Stoppers Fund.
Alderman Oswalt made the motion to adopt the resolution. Second by Alderman Williams.
Roll Call: All Ayes.
GENERAL FUND BILLS
Alderman Oswalt made a motion to approve and pay the General Fund bills in the amount of $35,399.43. Second by Alderman Twillie. Roll Call: All Ayes.
Alderman Capps made a motion to approve and pay Street Fund bills in the amount of $14,725.65. Second by Alderman Hollowell. Roll Call: All Ayes.
Alderman Capps made a motion to approve and pay Solid Waste Fund bills in the amount of $40,785.64. Second by Alderman Hollowell. Roll Call: All Ayes.
Alderman Twillie scheduled a budget meeting on April 28, 2015 at 6:00 p.m.
April 21, 2015 Minutes cont.
Alderman Breeding asked if barricades could be placed at the state police headquarters and West end of Eaton Road and maybe White Motor Company while we are waiting on the weather.
Alderman Twillie stated there is a similar situation on Elise Street with the street corroding.
Alderman Williams made a motion to adjourn at 7:05 p.m. Second by Alderman Fields.
Larry Bryant, Mayor
Derene Cochran, City Clerk-Treasurer