2013 budget, revised camera measure top busy Monday night council agenda

Topping the list of agenda items for the Pine Bluff City Council Monday are Mayor Carl A. Redus Jr.’s proposed 2013 city budget and a revised ordinance calling for installation and maintenance of surveillance cameras at certain businesses as a crime-fighting tool “for the protection of the public and employees.”

The council is tentatively scheduled to consider 15 resolutions and nine ordinances at its meeting Monday at 5:30 p.m. at council chambers at the civic center.

The budget is due for its first reading.

City Finance Director Steve Miller described the proposed $41.565-million package as “tight.” No salary increases are included, although some could be enacted later through amendments. Departmental meetings with appropriate council committees have been held recently to finalize the proposal, which includes a $299,000, .007-percent increase from the 2012 budget of $41.266 million.

Miller said he’s seen even more restrictive growth in year-to-year budgets, primarily prior to the 2011 voter-approved sales tax hike and resulting bond issue.

The camera measure is slated for a third and final reading.

Other ordinances scheduled for final readings call for:

• Authorizing a short-term financing agreement with Pine Bluff National Bank to acquire four police cars and declaring an emergency.

• Amending the existing code of ordinances regarding provisions of the city’s retirement system. Proposed changes, according to a system coordinator, are needed to “improve the retirement plan” as its funded status “has been declining for some time.”

• Amending the city’s zoning code as it applies to temporary housing for emergency services.

• Amending an ordinance calling for the closing of a portion of an alley in Block 18 of Eureka Heights, Addition No. 4.

Up for a second reading will be an ordinance calling for the amending of existing privilege tax and transient merchants ordinances.

Other ordinances slated for first readings call for:

• Amending the current code of ordinances to add a new section concerning speed breakers or bumps.

• Authorizing city employees and officials to be reimbursed for gratuities added to meal charges when on city business.

The resolutions call for:

• Renaming Catalpa Street from Sixth to 11th Avenues as Saint DeWitt Hill Street (after the long-time pastor of First Trinity Church of God in Christ at 800 S. Catalpa St.)

• Authorizing agreement with the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department for improvements to University Drive and appropriating funds to pay for the improvements.

• Requesting party committees for the recognized political parties in Jefferson County to conduct primary elections for municipal offices beginning in 2013 and thereafter.

• Directing the police department to reimburse uniformed officers for the cost of purchasing new hats.

• Appropriating $100,000 for use by the parks and recreation department in response to a 2012 budgetary shortfall.

• Authorizing the mayor to submit a grant request to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for a matching Brownsfield Grant for 601 S. Main St., a site for which the economic and community development department has drafted plans to develop an urban plaza. The city will provide a 20-percent share of anticipated cleanup costs.

• Commending Leigh Cockrum, Patrick Colclasure, Virginia Hymes and Walter Johnson for their services as trustees of the Arts and Science Center for Southeast Arkansas and appointing Mary Flowers, Nicholas Makris, Carla Martin and Laura Smart to the same body.

The public safety committee will meet at 4 p.m. The ordinance and resolutions and ways and means committees will meet at 5 p.m.

The full council session will start at 5:30 p.m.