Proposed ordinance would require council presence at construction meetings

The Pine Bluff City Council will consider an ordinance Monday that would require the attendance of every alderman at all city staff meetings where municipal construction projects are discussed.

Co-sponsored by Ward 1 Alderman Thelma Walker, Ward 3 Alderman Glen Brown and Ward 4 Alderman George Stepps, the proposed ordinance, up for a first reading, would also require that no funds be spent on any project unless already authorized by the city council.

The mayor, finance director and the project manager would also be required to attend.

“We felt that this was necessary after learning of the meeting where downsizing the new animal shelter was discussed,” Stepps said in reference to a Tuesday meeting of the city’s bond project task force. “I don’t know why we had to read in the newspaper that this project was being downsized. If there was a proposal out there about downsizing, I’m pretty sure the city council should have been involved in it.”

Stepps said that Pine Bluff residents approved a $1 million bond issue for the construction of a new animal shelter in the February 2011 five-eighths cent sales tax special election.

“Pine Bluff voters approved the money for a new animal shelter,” Stepps said. “We didn’t approve anything contingent upon what Jefferson County and the humane society could do.”

Project architect Fred Reed said at the Tuesday task force meeting that the animal shelter project has a $770,000 funding shortfall because of expected money from the county and the Jefferson County Humane Society not coming through.

Walker said that the ordinance should become law as a message to voters.

“We are responsible for the citizen’s money,” Walker said. “It is a responsibility that we as elected officials have.”

Brown agreed.

“The people voted to build a new shelter in the bond referendum,” Brown said. “We can’t have people making decisions in meetings on big money issues without the participation of city council members.”

In other business, the council will consider a proposed ordinance, up for the third and final reading, that would eliminate the 30-minute time limit on parking spaces along Barraque Street adjacent to the Jefferson County Courthouse.

Also up for a third and final reading is a proposed ordinance that would amend the job description for the position of assistant chief of police, requiring that no person may be promoted to the position of deputy chief of police who does not hold the rank of captain or equivalent and that no person may be promoted to the positions of assistant chief of police who does not hold the rank of deputy chief or equivalent.

The council will consider a proposed ordinance, up for the second reading, that would prohibit the purposeful removal or damaging of signs.

Also up for the second reading is a proposed ordinance that would have the city inspection department waive any permit and inspection fees for prospective purchasers of real estate in the downtown area.

Also, Pine Bluff Mayor Debe Hollingsworth vetoed a section of Resolution 3704 unanimously passed by the city council May 19 that called for paying interim department supervisors the same pay as would be paid to the department head for the period of time served.

Hollingsworth said that this was done to remain in compliance with the Non-Uniformed Employee Handbook adopted in October 2011.

On Monday, the council will consider a resolution that would override this veto.

Also, the council will consider a proposed resolution that would authorize the city clerk to destroy checks associated with closed accounts.

And the council will consider a proposed resolution that would have the Pine Bluff Police Department and the Pine Bluff Fire and Emergency Services Department include on its incident reports the mailing address of the properties they respond to in addition to the physical address.