Sponsor plans to withdraw proposed changes in traffic fines

Despite being up for its third and final reading, a proposed ordinance that would allow the city to lower traffic fines while at the same time increasing the revenue derived from them will not be voted on at the Pine Bluff City Council’s Monday meeting.

Ward 2 Alderman Wayne Easterly, who is the sponsor of the measure, confirmed Friday that he will be pulling it from the agenda before Monday’s meeting.

“I’m just going to pull it,” Easterly said Friday. “For now that’s all we can do.”

The ordinance was intended to base traffic violations — including exceeding a posted speed limit and failure to yield right of way — on city code instead of state statutes. However, Easterly and Pine Bluff Police Chief Jeff Hubanks said Friday that a closer reading of state law reveals that such a move is prohibited.

“An obscure caveat in the law means that we can’t supersede the state like we wanted to,” Hubanks said. “The only way to increase revenue now is to raise fines and that would run counter to what we are trying to do. Local law can’t supersede state law on this. We will just have to go back and think of another way to do what we are trying to do, which is to reduce overall fines and increase revenue coming to the city.”

In other business, the council will take up for a third and final reading a proposed ordinance sponsored by Ward 1 Alderwoman Thelma Walker that would function as a sister ordinance to one passed by the council on March 17 that allows homeowners wishing to do work on their own residence to do so without a contractor’s license.

“Unless mandated by state law, a person engaged in work on his or her own residential property is not and shall not be considered a general contractor for purposes of assessing an occupation tax,” the proposed legislation reads in part.

Walker said the new proposal is a natural companion piece to the earlier legislation.

“This will go a long way to help to clean up the city,” Walker said. “This makes it more affordable for people to go in and fix up their properties in town. It should have been done a long time ago.”

Walker said she had heard of no opposition to her proposal.

“I don’t see how anybody could oppose it,” Walker said. “It is a win for everybody.”

Up for a first reading is an ordinance that would approve a contract between the city and Opinion Research of Little Rock to conduct research that would measure the attitudes of the region’s residents toward Pine Bluff.

The ordinance is sponsored by Ward 3 Alderman Bill Brumett, and would be a component of the city’s image campaign.

The council will consider a resolution that would establish a depository board to supervise the depositing of municipal funds for the city of Pine Bluff.

The resolution, sponsored by Brumett, says that state law requires the creation of such a board made up of three people, including the mayor, the city clerk or recorder or clerk-treasurer or recorder-treasurer; and a city council member selected by the city council.

The resolution calls for the substitution of the city treasurer for the city council member position, noting that such a substitution is allowed.

The council will consider a resolution sponsored by Brumett that would authorize a payment schedule for reimbursing the money owed by the city to the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The council will consider a resolution sponsored by Ward 4 Alderman Steven Mays that would appropriate funds for the position of athletic director with the Department of Parks and Recreation amounting to $41,000.

The council will consider a resolution sponsored by Mays that would create a panel to study the effects on the city of the 71602 zip code, which is shared between Pine Bluff and White Hall.

The council will consider a resolution sponsored by Ward 4 Alderman George Stepps that would authorize the execution of a contract for $69,761 with Redstone Construction Group for work on the Lake Saracen Walking Trail.