MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING
FORREST CITY CITY COUNCIL
FORREST CITY, ARKANSAS
February 2, 2016
The City Council of Forrest City, Arkansas, met in regular session on February 2, 2016. Mayor Bryant called the meeting to order at 6:00 p.m. Alderman Williams offered prayer after which the Pledge of Allegiance was recited. The following answered roll call: Mayor Bryant, Clerk Cochran, and City Council members: Williams, Echols, Hollowell, Breeding, Twillie, Fields, Capps, and Oswalt. Attorney Cline was absent.
Alderman Oswalt made a motion to approve the minutes of January 19, 2016 regular meeting. Motion second by Alderman Williams. Roll Call: All Ayes.
REPORT OF COMMITTEES
Alderman Oswalt stated the personnel committee meet and discussed a few items. Alderman Oswalt stated the committee went over a recommendation from the police department to eliminate three sergeant positions and create three lieutenant positions. Mayor Bryant stated the change would take the department back to the way it used to be; the positions will be gradually phased in. Alderman Oswalt stated this item would be referred to the budget committee.
Alderman Oswalt stated this item will need two motions. He said the committees have been dealing with the district court clerk’s position for nearly two years; whether salaried or not.
Alderman Oswalt explained that the court clerk’s position has been salaried, but now there is new criteria set by the federal government. He said that the Department of Labor was supposed to release new rules at the end of January that would make the salary amount almost double; which would determine if the position is hourly or salaried.
Alderman Oswalt said he recommended to the committee that the council should deal with this issue now and not wait until the federal government rules have been put in place. He said when dealing with the Federal government it could take up to a year. Alderman Oswalt made a motion to make the District Court Clerk’s position hourly instead salary. Second by Alderman Williams.
Alderman Breeding asked if that position is made hourly, how can the overtime be alleviated in the future. He stated that the department head could rectify the overtime by staggering the time personal comes to work. Alderman Fields asked how that position would be paid.
Mayor Bryant stated it would be paid hourly on a 40-hour work week, and if overtime is required it would have to be explained and justified like all other departments.
Mayor Bryant then stated that the council should start charging for all the cities that come through our judicial system; the city pays for expenses incurred by those cities. He stated that Mrs. Rhodes mentioned that the city could receive $10.00 per ticket; that money could go towards hiring another position.
Judge Routon came in and the council filled him in on the conversation that had already taken place concerning the District Court Clerk’s position and alleviating the overtime.
Alderman Breeding then asked Judge Routon about staggering the time and having more than one person responsible for those duties that are creating the overtime. And maybe raising the second person’s salary in order to compensate her for having the extra responsibilities.
Judge Routon stated he probably could take care of the overtime but he needed to talk with Mrs. Rhodes and his Chief Deputy Clerk Clara Harland. He then stated he would work on a schedule that could lessen the amount of overtime by adjusting the schedules of the district court clerk and chief deputy clerk. Judge Routon explained with the court system, court could go until 6:30 or 7:00 p.m. Alderman Echols asked Judge Routon if by filling the vacant position could that lessen the work load and how long would it take to train that person to handle the extended hours.
Judge Routon stated no, that position would be at an entry level and they could not handle those responsibilities.
Alderman Williams asked if this is not a generating funds department. Judge Routon replied yes, and the county is responsible for one half of the District court’s expenses.
February 2, 2016 Minutes cont.
Mayor Bryant stated that the county does not pay half, which is the reason he asked Judge Routon to write a letter to the county judge stating that the county does not supply janitorial services and supplies which is being deducted from the city’s bill.
Alderman Breeding asked Judge Routon if he would put in writing a written recommendation to the mayor’s office on how to alleviate the overtime in his office. Judge Routon stated he would.
Alderman Breeding then asked Mayor Bryant to forward the request to the budget committee.
Alderman Williams asked for clarity; would this alleviate all overtime? Mayor Bryant stated there would be times when there has to be overtime; he did not have a problem with that.
Roll Call: All Ayes.
Alderman Oswalt stated the other issue is from June 2014 to December 31, 2015, Mrs. Rhodes stated that she has 293 hours in overtime. He said he asked the city clerk to figure what the cost would be for salary hours plus the city’s match on FICA, Pension, and Workers comp; the estimated cost would be $11,221.35. Alderman Oswalt stated a motion was made by the committee, but did not have the cost amount at that time, to go ahead and recommend to the council to pay for the 293 hours to clear the books. Alderman Oswalt then made the motion. Second by Alderman William.
Discussion, Mayor Bryant stated the county would pay half of the expense. Roll Call: All Ayes.
Alderman Oswalt stated the last discussion was the water department manager requested four weeks of vacation. He said he called for a motion twice and did not get one. Mayor Bryant asked Alderman Oswalt how he wanted to handle the situation, did he want Mr. Murdock to speak on his own behalf. Alderman Oswalt stated the issue died for lack of a motion. Alderman Fields stated since it was not a motion at the personnel committee meeting; it was requested to be sent to the full council.
Mr. Murdock asked that his request be removed from the agenda because there are other global issues that are more significant that would be presented to the council.
DEPARTMENT HEADS REPORTS
Mayor Bryant stated Mr. Gaines could not be present he had other duties at the civic center.
Code Enforcement Officer Muqtasid gave an update on new construction: Barrow Hill Road Motel is approximately 77% completed and Meadow apartments is approximately 20% completed. There were seven new businesses opened. She told Alderman Breeding that the building permit violation on Fernwood had been addressed and she is waiting on a response.
Mayor Bryant stated that Chief Ruffin had an appointment he could not miss, but he did say everything was up and running and he had the ladder truck tested. Alderman Capps asked the original completion date on the fire sub-station. Mayor Bryant stated he was told January 29, 2016. Alderman Capps asked if there were any contractual penalties after the due date.
Mayor Bryant stated $200.00 per day. He said Chief Ruffin is working with the architect on all deadlines.
Park & Recreation
Mayor Bryant stated Mr. Taylor has something going on at the complex and could not be present. Mr. Taylor did say he was working on and upgrading the walking track and the high school will start playing softball and baseball at the end of this month.
Chief Lee gave an incident offense handout and reported that there were: one opening in dispatch, one opening in patrol, and three officers are currently in the police academy. He said the equipment is working well. The tornado warning software is located in the police station and the system is tested every Saturday at noon and a silent test ran daily. Chief Lee also said the
February 2, 2016 Minutes cont.
officers were interacting more with the businesses. He said his main focus for 2016 is more training for the officers.
Alderman Capps asked Chief Lee how he was coming on purchasing the Tasers. Chief Lee said he was working on other avenues to get money so he could help cut the cost to the city.
Mayor Bryant stated that Mr. Rooks could not be present but he reported that the compost yard will be open Saturday, February 9, 2016 if the weather permits. All garbage trucks are up and running and he has been running two limb chippers. Mr. Rooks said they have been doing some patchwork to get caught up on street repairs.
Mr. Murdock presented the city council with a monthly report for the Forrest City Water Utility on consumer payments, cutoffs, and locks and pulls. He then stated there is a memorandum to Mayor Bryant referencing the 2016 operating and capital budget; he said the council’s prompt attention would be greatly appreciated. Mr. Murdock told the council he wanted them to be aware that there is significant equipment that needs to be purchased, camera equipment and vehicles because the city water needs to be cracking on their I and I assessments and repairing lines. He asked the council to act as expeditiously as possible so he could purchase the equipment and begin work on the city’s sanitary system.
Alderman Breeding asked if the city purchased the equipment for the I & I issues, who is trained to operate it. Mr. Murdock stated the city has a proposal from a firm from Dallas Texas that has committed to act as a program manager to train the employees on how to execute the program.
Alderman Breeding stated buying equipment and bringing someone in to train the employees is not less expensive than hiring an engineering firm to deal with the problems. Mr. Murdock stated he has three proposals from three firms ranging from $400,000 to $500,000 to do nothing but study. He said to him, it does not make sense to pay that kind of money for a study when the equipment could be purchased and the employees can be educated on how to do the investigations and repairs.
Mayor Bryant stated the city has had problems with the ponds for at least four years or longer. The city needs to come to some type of resolution, if there is money in the O& M account to fix it; then it needs to be fixed.
Alderman Breeding asked if ADEQ has to sign off on all projects. Mr. Murdock replied ADEQ does not dictate means and methods.
Alderman Breeding asked if certificates or licenses were required by ADEQ and EPA or some type of engineer to work on the ponds. Mr. Murdock said no, but he recommended that Alderman Breeding asked those entities those questions. Mr. Murdock said they are not tearing down the ponds; they are repairing.
After more discussion, Mayor Bryant asked Mr. Murdock to give the city a one or two-page abstract on what is needed; something that the council can understand by line item with an estimated cost. Then, the council can make a decision concerning his budget in a timely manner.
Mayor Bryant stated the procedural rules would be put off until the next meeting, the manuals did not come.
Mayor Bryant stated he was still waiting on an approval for the civic center commission’s appointment.
Judge Routon ask that the district court’s appropriation to purchase office furniture and equipment be put on the next agenda.
February 2, 2016 Minutes cont.
Permission to Bid Asphalt
Alderman Oswalt made the motion to grant Mayor Bryant permission to purchase asphalt. Second by Alderman Capps. Roll Call: All Ayes.
New City Hall Discussion
Mayor Bryant stated that someone mentioned each council member having an office space in the new city hall. Mayor Bryant said he included a 6 by 6 office space for each council member. The council member all agreed it was not necessary for offices for them.
Alderman Hollowell asked Mayor Bryant if he had the plans for the new city hall. Mayor Bryant stated the same plans from ETC engineers.
GENERAL FUND BILLS
Alderman Hollowell made a motion to approve and pay the General Fund bills totaling $27,725.57. Alderman Breeding second the motion. Roll Call: All Ayes.
Alderman Fields made a motion to approve and pay the Street Fund bills totaling $6,276.66. Alderman Twillie second the motion. Roll Call: All Ayes.
Alderman Echols made a motion to approve and pay the Solid Waste fund bills totaling $4,167.14. Alderman Fields second the motion. Roll Call: All Ayes.
Alderman Oswalt made a motion to approve and pay Water Utility bills in the amount of $39,675.64. Second by Alderman Twillie. Roll Call: All Ayes.
Alderman Capps made a motion to approve and pay paid Water Utility paid invoices in the amount of $52,810.60. Second by Alderman Williams. Roll Call: All Ayes.
Mayor Bryant stated that the highway is going to pave from Highway 70 at Crow Creek to Powell Street.
Alderman Echols made a motion to adjourn at 6:55 p.m. Second by Alderman Capps.
Larry Bryant, Mayor
Derene Cochran, City Clerk-Treasurer