MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING
FORREST CITY CITY COUNCIL
FORREST CITY, ARKANSAS
September 6, 2016
The City Council of Forrest City, Arkansas met in regular session on September 6, 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, Attorney Cline, and City Council members: Williams, Echols, Hollowell, Breeding, Fields, Capps and Oswalt. Alderman Twillie was absent.
Alderman Capps made a motion to approve the minutes of the August 16, 2016 regular meeting. Second by Alderman Breeding. Roll Call: All Ayes.
REPORT OF COMMITTEES
DEPARTMENT HEADS REPORTS
Mr. Gaines reported that the civic center rental were in line with last year’s rental. From July 1, to September 30, 2016 the civic center currently has 221 rentals and during the same period last year there were 236 rentals. Mr. Gains stated the current year-to-date rentals are 769. He stated that two commercial refrigerators were recently purchased by the Advertising and Promotion Commission, a new projector has been put-up in the auditorium and the Henley room and a projector will be installed in the Ferguson room by the end of this week. Mr. Gaines ended his report by informing the council that he was working on getting an upgrade for the civic center sign.
Code Enforcement Officer (CEO) Vaughn stated she had planned to present the council with a presentation for additional personnel that she requested, but had printing difficulties. She reported the following progress under new construction:
· the 48-unit Meadow Apartment is 88 percent complete
· duplex on Happy Hollow is 70 percent complete
· a residential home on Hwy 1 North is 40 percent complete
· Jarrett barn is near completion
· the 2400 sq. ft. metal building on 834 East Broadway is just a shell.
Vaughn further reported that the major renovation at Walmart is 75 percent complete and there is a new upcoming structure for the Breath of Life Church which will be 5,950 sq. ft. on Newcastle Road.
Alderman Breeding asked how many structures are presently on the condemnation list where the owners have been notified but nothing has been done. Mrs. Vaughn answered that there are approximately 60 structures on the condemnation list; she is currently working on 18 of the structures. The remaining structures on the list are pending and will be processed after the 18 are completed.
Alderman Breeding then asked if the old Forrest Hill Elementary School in on the condemnation list. Mrs. Vaughn stated it is not. Alderman Breeding stated he went by the building with a couple of constituents, all the doors were opened and more than half of the windows are broken out; something needs to be done. Mrs. Vaughn explained that building and several other buildings meet the same criteria and probably need to be boarded up and secured. Those buildings pose a nuisance, but they are not condemnable. She also stated it is her understanding that the city does not have a budget to deal with those issues; she is not sure what to do with the building, because they do not meet the condemnation criteria and they are still structural sound. She stated that her main focus is on the buildings that need to be torn down.
Alderman Williams asked what is going on with the cleanup on Broadway and Grant Streets. Mrs. Vaughn stated that Mayor Bryant has given her permission to do title searches. Mayor Bryant stated in the past code enforcement went to the courthouse and gathered information on property owners and now that the laws have changed the city needs to know who owns the property, a title search is required.
Alderman Breading asked the difference between nuisance abatement and condemnation.
Mrs. Vaughn stated something that requires more research in order to deal with it and at this point she does not have an answer. She stated the city needs to find out what other cities are doing.
Alderman Oswalt asked what it takes to have that building condemned; the roof is also caving in. Mrs. Vaughn stated she did not know, she cannot enter that building without a court order. Alderman Oswalt said he was afraid that some child may get hurt in that building. He also stated he thought it was put in the contract when the Boys & Girl Club finished with the building, it would revert back to the school district.
Mayor Bryant asked Attorney Cline to give the council a legal opinion on what can be done with the building at the next meeting.
Interim Chief Renigar reported that work was still being done on the fire sub-station, the parking lot was being stripped this afternoon; and he still does not have a completion date for the station. Chief Renigar did say a punch-out list was done last week and the contractor is working from that list.
He also reported that there were some work completed on a couple of the fire engines, they are repaired and back in service.
Alderman Capps asked Chief Renigar who did the punch list and if he could have a copy of the list.
Chief Renigar replied David Hodges, Architect and yes he would give him a copy of the punch list.
Alderman Capps stated the completion of August 15, 2016 has come and gone, can the contractor not give the council a completion date. Chief Renigar stated he took it on himself to give the August 15th completion date, it was not given by Mr. Murdock. Chief Renigar then stated that he has not ask for another completion date. He stated he would ask the Architect Mr. Hodges for a new date.
Alderman Capps asked who will do the landscaping. Chief Renigar stated Gore Construction Co.
Alderman Breeding asked Chief Renigar if he would send a letter requesting Mr. Murdock and also the Architect David Hodges to be present to give a completion date within a two week time frame at the next city council meeting. Chief Renigar stated he would request the information.
Alderman Capps stated he would like for the letter to include a question regarding Mr. Murdock’s intent to pay back the $200.00 a-day fine for each day past the original completion date.
Alderman Capps made a motion that a letter be sent to Dave Hodges and Reginald Murdock requesting both to attend the next council meeting with an expected date of completion. Alderman Breeding second the motion. Roll Call: Alderman Williams, Echols, Hollowell, Breeding, Capps, and Oswalt All Ayes. Alderman Fields said No.
Park & Recreation
Mr. Taylor stated that all of the equipment was up and running. The Larry Bryant Center is meeting its quota. A local attorney donated money to purchase three computers for the children to use for homework and as needed. Mr. Taylor also said that the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission wants to partnership with the city in order to host a fishing rodeo. He said normally the fishing derby is held in November and if it goes well, starting the first of the year the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will stock the pond once a month.
Alderman Williams asked Mr. Taylor how summer softball went compared to the last few years.
Mr. Taylor stated the recreation department is still in the trying stages, since the council voted last year to start charging a gate fee; it is going to be slow at the beginning but it will work out.
Chief Deon Lee gave the council an activity report for the 4th quarter 2016. He then reported that there are no staff issues. A significant amount of money has been spent on vehicle maintenance. The police department could use a few new cars because some of the cars are 10 to 16-years old. He said 10 or 12 cars were purchased at one time and those cars are going down. The new phone system has been installed and working well. East Arkansas Planning and Development District reached out to Representative Marshall Wright for a $9,000 GIF grant to help pay for cost of Taser that were purchased. The department participated in a state wide drive sober or get pulled over campaign which ran from August 19- September 5, 2016. He stated last week the department did a game changer operation which nine businesses were sited for a total of 86 charges on gaming machines. He gave the council a copy of the statue dealing with the gaming machines. Chief Lee stated he has checked with the Attorney General and the prosecuting attorney’s and the department is in compliance in issuing those citations.
Alderman Capps asked Chief Lee how many cars the department needed. Chief Lee stated at least three. Alderman Capps then asked for a list of the three cars that will be taken out of service the year model and how much was spent on each car.
Alderman Breeding asked Chief Lee how many cars the department have that are not in service.
Chief Lee stated about 8 to 9 cars. Alderman Breeding then asked if Chief Lee if he would add to the information requested by Alderman Capps the model number, mileage and why the cars are not in service.
Mayor Bryant stated he was going to request from the council permission to purchase three police cars as it is in the budget. Mayor Bryant stated he received a letter from the dealer to purchase the cars on state contract; first come first serve.
Alderman Hollowell made a motion to purchase up to three police cars. Second by Alderman Breeding. Roll Call: All Ayes.
Mr. Rooks was unable to be present. Mayor Bryant read the report which stated that all trucks were up and running. Public works were trying to get caught up on grass cutting and picking up junk. The compost site was open the weekend and they had a good turnout. Mayor Bryant reported that someone went out to the landfill and vandalized the bulldozer and broke some of the windows out.
Mr. Murdock presented the city council with a monthly report for the Forrest City Water Utility on customer payment report, customer cut offs/ locks and pulls for the months of July-August. Mr. Murdock’s report also included a DRA application, a 2016 capital expenditure budget update, Article on the state’s economic development assistance program, Ordinance or authorization to purchase sewer jets machines in the amount of $56,803.31, Ordinance amending ordinance #1068 to increase fees for the monitoring of sewer pumps at FBOP, and Ordinance authorizing the contracting of RJN Group in conjunction with I/I training program in the amount of $66,593.00.
Alderman Capps and Alderman Breeding questioned the contract between the Federal Bureau of Prison and the Forrest City Water Utility after a lengthy discussion both council members asked for a copy of the contract.
John Jones was present to express his concerns about the debris and leaves not being picked up and the junk on the side of the streets in the neighborhoods. Mr. Jones suggested posting a telephone number so the public could call when they have debris to be picked up. At the end of the day or week a list could be compiled to create a route for the following week. Mr. Jones also said he did not mind volunteering his time to help someone setup the routes.
Mayor Bryant stated the Public Works Department has a number (261-1418) it was mailed out to the public with their water bills. Mayor Bryant also stated he would have Mr. Murdock to mail another notice with the water bills to let the public know their district and the telephone number. Then the public can call in and a get a work order number so it can be tracked to the workers locations. Mayor Bryant stated some of the debris around the city would be addressed in the near future; the ordinance on nuisance abatement and debris pickup need to be re-visited.
Mayor Bryant told council in the near future he would presented them with a consolidated ordinance that will address most or if not all of Mr. Jones concerns.
Mayor Bryant asked Attorney Cline to inform the council on what needed to be done about the sell of the city’s airport.
Attorney Cline stated that two bids were opened at the last council meeting. The highest bid was $527,602.00 from Hutcherson Flying, Inc. and Central Arkansas Turbines, Inc. and the lowest bid was from Crisp Real Estate for $166,620.00. He told council if they believe that the highest bid is a good bid and if they wanted to accept the bid, it needed to be put in the form of a motion.
Alderman Hollowell made a motion to accept the highest bid in the amount of $527,602.00 from Hutcherson Flying Inc. and Central Arkansas Turbines. Second by Alderman Capps. Roll Call: All Ayes.
Attorney Cline read An Ordinance to Waive The Requirement of A Competitive Bidding; Declaring An Exceptional Circumstance; Authorizing An Expenditure of $41,048.75 To Robbie’s Equipment Sales and Rental, LLC FPR A 45 J Serial #116591 Dozer sponsored by Alderman Oswalt. Alderman Oswalt made a motion to suspend the rules and read the ordinance for the second reading. Second by Alderman Fields. Alderman Echols stated it is her understanding that the dozer is a 2005 model and the city is paying $41,000. Mayor Bryant stated yes, it was put in the budget up to $50,000. Alderman Echols then asked what is the cost of a new dozer. Mayor Bryant stated anywhere from $125,000 to $150,000. Alderman Echols then stated if the money is coming from the solid waste fund why is the city looking a 2005 model. Mayor Bryant stated the city does not use a dozer constantly. Mayor Bryant stated the city does not have a dozer, we rented this one to try it out, and it works well now we are trying to buy it. After further discussion Roll Call: All Ayes.
Attorney Cline read the ordinance for the second reading by title and section only. Alderman Oswalt made a motion to suspend the rules and read the ordinance for the third reading. Second by Alderman Fields. Alderman Capps stated since it cost $3,500 per month to rent the dozer and it has only been two weeks, will the city get part of the money refunded. Mayor Bryant stated that $2,500 will come off the cost of the dozer.
Roll Call: All Ayes.
Attorney Cline read the ordinance for the third reading. Alderman Oswalt made a motion to adopt the ordinance. Second by Alderman Fields. Roll Call: All Ayes.
Alderman Oswalt made a motion to adopt the emergency clause. Second by Alderman Field. Roll Call: All Ayes.
Resolution condemning Structure
Alderman Hollowell stated he asked Attorney Cline to draw up a resolution to condemn property at 435 N. Forrest Street. He stated he thinks it is the biggest nuisance in town. He also said it is an abandoned house it just needs to be condemned.
Attorney Cline stated in order to pass a resolution to condemn the house, a notification would have to be sent to the homeowner. He said the motion to begin condemnation proceedings is to set a public hearing for the next council meeting, pending service of the landowner. Alderman Hollowell made the motion. Second by Alderman Capps. Mrs. Vaughn stated that the property owner has resumed utilities, and as a result; the property could not be condemned.
Mayor Bryant stated it will be researched and followed through. Alderman Breeding asked what the motion is.
Attorney Cline stated the motion is to begin condemnation proceedings and set if for public hearing at the next council meeting pending notification of the landowner. Mrs. Vaughn then asked if the council was giving the property owner 30-days notice by certified mail. Mayor Bryant stated the city will start the proceedings accordingly.
GENERAL FUND BILLS
Alderman Capps made a motion to approve and pay the General Fund bills in the amount of $25,592.60. Motion second by Alderman Williams. Roll Call: All Ayes.
Alderman Echols made a motion to approve and pay the Street Fund bills in the amount of $8,994.19. Motion was second by Alderman Fields. Roll Call: All Ayes.
Alderman Oswalt made a motion to approve and pay the Solid Waste Fund bills in the amount of $16,946.24. Motion was second by Alderman Fields. Roll Call: All Ayes.
Alderman Echols made a motion to approve and pay Water Utility bills in the amount of $16,470.61. Motion was second by Alderman Oswalt. Roll Call: All Ayes.
Alderman Hollowell stated that some citizens are not putting their garbage containers up.
Mayor Bryant stated he would have something in the newspaper and on the radio to that effect; the city will start enforcing the ordinance. Alderman Echols stated the council should take into consideration this time of year that people are taking vacations.
Alderman Capps stated the first time is a warning and second time a citation. Mayor Bryant stated this is nothing new, when the city starts issuing citations the citizens start to do better.
Alderman Capps asked about the plans for the swimming pool. Mayor Bryant stated the council should have been notified a week ago that the plans were in the code enforcement office. Alderman Breeding asked Mayor Bryant if he had a timeline. Mayor Bryant stated he has not had any contact with Baldwin and Shell; he will send a letter tomorrow.
Alderman Capps asked if the plans are for six or eight lanes. Mayor Bryant stated six lanes. Alderman Capps asked if the council deems they want eight lanes, how they would go about changing the plans.
Mayor Bryant stated it is now going to be difficult finding the money for six lanes. The city has been held up waiting for extra money that was supposed to have come in and no one has look at the budget.
Alderman Capps then stated he thinks the city would benefit from an eight lane pool. He stated it has been discussed and the majority of the city council would like to have an eight lane pool; the same kind that Pocahontas has. Alderman Capps stated he would like for the contractors and architects to come and meet with the council and then it could be discussed, what each individual council member wants.
Mayor Bryant stated in the beginning this was going to be a therapy pool, with a pool on the side that the school could use if they decided they wanted to have a swim team. Now, it has been put off and the people who voted for a therapy pool have been thrown under the bus. The council let other people get involved and no one has looked at the budget.
Alderman Echols suggested a call meeting with Baldwin & Shell and ETC Engineers to discuss the plans and alternatives before the city made any more decisions regarding the aquatic pool.
After further discussion, Alderman Capps made a motion to contact ETC Engineers and Baldwin & Shell and schedule a special call meeting with all council members as soon as possible.
Second by Alderman Williams. Roll Call: All Ayes.
Mr. Murdock asked the city council to consider moving forward with an ordinance to amend ordinance No. 1868. Attorney Cline stated this ordinance is amending ordinance 1868 there is only one change to the ordinance and that is the monthly customer charge from $l, 500 to $5,000.
After further discussion Mr. Murdock was asked to put his ordinance off until the next meeting.
Alderman Echols made a motion to adjourn at 7:23 p.m. second by Alderman Fields.
Larry Bryant, Mayor
Derene Cochran, City Clerk-Treasurer