Council, without opposition, overrides Hollingsworth veto

The Pine Bluff City Council on Monday night overrode Mayor Debe Hollingsworth’s veto of a Dec. 16 unanimously approved resolution that altered the manner in which the city was to distribute funds to a contractor who constructed three low-income housing units near the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.

Hollingsworth said she decided to veto the legislation after receiving guidance from City Attorney Althea Hadden-Scott and learning that the procedure could potentially lead to “red flags” with the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

HUD last year audited the city’s economic and community development department and uncovered misappropriations and documentation problems with nearly $500,000 in HUD funds that must be paid back. Hollingsworth said, however, that her veto “has noting to do with the HUD review.”

The proposed override received nods from Alderwoman Thelma Walker and Aldermen Charles Boyd, Glen Brown, Bill Brumett, Lloyd Holcomb Jr., Steven Mays and George Stepps, who motioned for the action. Alderman Wayne Easterly abstained.

Brown discounted Hollingsworth’s stated reasoning for her veto.

“It’s a personal opinion,” Brown said.

Walker also verbally disagreed with the mayor. Brumett said he would support Walker’s opposition to the veto based upon her longtime experience with the econonmic and community development department.

In other business, the council decided to maintain its 2013 committee assignments for the new year.

Committees and their members, with chairmen listed first, are:

• ADMINISTRATION — Stepps, Holcomb and Easterly.

• COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT — Walker, Boyd and Brown.

• DEVELOPMENT AND PLANNING — Boyd, Mays and Holcomb.

• ORDINANCES AND RESOLUTIONS — Brumett, Easterly and Stepps.

• PUBLIC HEALTH AND WELFARE — Holcomb, Walker and Brown.

• PUBLIC SAFETY — Easterly, Brumett and Stepps.

• PUBLIC WORKS — Mays, Brumett and Stepps.

• TRAFFIC AND AVIATION — Brown, Boyd and Mays.

• WAYS AND MEANS — Brumett, Easterly and Walker.

The council also heard readings of two proposed ordinances and unanimously approved five resolutions.

Given a second reading was an ordinance calling for adoption of the 2012 state fire prevention code. Gaining an initial reading was an ordinance calling for authorization of the mayor to acquire real property at 1400 W. Fourth Ave. and appropriation of funds for improvements to the site.

The latter was referred to a committee for additional considerations.

The resolutions:

• Required the Jefferson County Community Development Corp. to proceed with construction of nine housing units;

• Provided for placement of costs of correcting certain nuisances on tax books as delinquent taxes and collected as such; and

• Separately commended the 2013 Dollarway, Pine Bluff and Watson Chapel high schools’ football teams and designated Friday as a day of honor for each.