ZIP code measure again falls short

For the second consecutive Pine Bluff City Council meeting, a proposed resolution that would require the inclusion of ZIP code information on police and fire incident reports was narrowly rejected.

Ward 4 Alderman Steven Mays sponsored the measure. It was supported by Mays, Ward 1 Alderman Thelma Walker, Ward 3 Alderman Glen Brown and Ward 4 Alderman George Stepps. It was opposed by Ward 1 Alderman Lloyd Holcomb Jr., Ward 2 Alderman Wayne Easterly and Ward 3 Alderman Bill Brumett. Ward 2 Alderman Charles Boyd was absent.

On July 7, Boyd voted for the item but Brown was absent.

“This ZIP code thing is bigger than we think it is,” Mays said. “I think this resolution is important. I don’t want people to wake up and find that their property has been annexed to White Hall.”

Pine Bluff Police Chief Jeff Hubanks said the ZIP code measure was unnecessary and potentially costly.

“I haven’t looked at our report forms yet to see if it can accommodate the addition of a ZIP code as it is,” Hubanks said. “If they don’t, then it will cost money to print up new report forms.”

Hubanks said that the addition of ZIP codes to incident reports would not provide any benefit to the department. He said that responding officers know whether they are responding to a call within the city limits or not.

Since the shared ZIP code between Pine Bluff and White Hall became a topic of conversation, a Census Bureau official has told Mays and other members of the council that ZIP codes do not affect population counts. County tax officials have said that ZIP codes do not affect tax collections. And Pine Bluff and White Hall already share crime statistics, which are reported to the FBI jointly as the Pine Bluff Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes the entirety of Jefferson, Cleveland and Lincoln counties.

In other business, a proposed ordinance that would require the attendance of all aldermen at city meetings where construction projects are discussed and would forbid the expenditure of funds on any project unless previously authorized by the council was kept on the calendar despite an agreement by Stepps to remove it during a Thursday meeting of the administration committee.

“After talking with a sponsor of the ordinance, she (Walker) indicated that she did not want to pull it,” said Stepps, who co-sponsored the item.

Brown is also a sponsor.

In other business the council:

- Approved an ordinance that waives the $75 fee charged by the city inspection department for prospective purchasers of real estate in the downtown area.

- Rejected a proposed ordinance that would have prohibited the removal or damage of signs from property and assessed criminal penalties.

- Approved a resolution authorizing a contract with Graves and Associates Inc. for work on the Dew Drop Drain renovation.

- Rejected a proposed emergency clause that would have gone with an ordinance passed at the July 7 council meeting changing the job description for the assistant police chief.

- Approved a resolution appropriating $522,057 from bond funds for fire department equipment and facility upgrades.