Council appropriates funds to help library repair air conditioning

The city council helped in coming to the rescue of the Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Library main branch’s employees and customers Monday night, unanimously approving an emergency funding appropriation to cover half of an estimated expense of $39,704.25 to repair the facility’s broken air-conditioning system. The library will absorb the remaining amount.

City Maintenance Director Steve Stephens reported that the library’s air-conditioning chiller failed Wednesday. A Carrier cooling system inspector from Little Rock later determined that freon lines had rusted away at the chiller barrel entry, Stephens said.

A work scope determined that the existing barrel would have to be replaced. The scope contains a “lead time” of a week. An estimated completion date was not listed.

The library has been adjusting its hours of operation since the breakdown, remaining open only when interior temperatures were at safe levels.

In other business, the council unanimously approved transferring administration of retirement coverage for eligible members of the Pine Bluff Firefighters Pension and Relief Fund to the Arkansas Local Police and Fire Retirement System (LOPFI). Mayor Debe Hollingsworth, as the local fund’s chief administrative officer, was authorized to enter into an irrevocable agreement with the state system.

The city had been warned that the local fund was in danger of becoming insolvent within several years.

Four resolutions were approved. They:

• Authorized the mayor to contract with CMP Repair of Magnolia, Texas, at a low bid of $280,720 for first-phase work in the Dew Drop drain rehabilitation project;

• Accepted conveyance of real property at Lot 2, Block 7 of Geisreiter’s Subdivision (18th Avenue between Georgia and Tennessee streets) from the Pine Bluff Housing Authority, which had been conveyed the property by the city in error;

• Cited Jefferson County natives Gerald Alley, Morris Hayes, Rae Jean Montague and Willie Roaf for their upcoming inductions into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame; and

• Provided for placement of costs of correcting certain nuisances on tax books as delinquent taxes for collection as such.

Three ordinances received initial readings and were sent to council committees for additional consideration. They call for:

• Accepting a dedication of Auto Park Drive to the city;

• Amending uniformed policies and procedures as related to interim appointments of fire and police chiefs; and

• Amending current ordinances with a definition of “replacement costs.”

The respective measures were referred to the traffic and aviation, public safety, and development and planning committees.