Council merges animal control into police department

The Pine Bluff City Council voted Monday night to bring the city’s formerly independent animal control department under the supervision of the police department.

The recommendation — co-sponsored by Alderman Wayne Easterly and Alderwoman Thelma Walker — was approved in a 7-1 decision. Alderman Glen Brown said “present ” when opposition votes were requested by Mayor Debe Hollingsworth.

Brown had concerns over possible future financial expenditures involving the merger, but was assured by Walker that less — not more — money would be necessary with the new arrangement.

Under the ordinance, the police chief is to “administer and supervise” the animal control division and name its immediate supervisor. The police chief will not receive additional compensation for the additional duties and the city will save funds by eliminating a salary package for the separate post of animal control director.

In other business, the council unanimously endorsed two other ordinances and a pair of resolutions.

The ordinances:

• Direct that the city’s departments and agencies should make use of the municipality’s local cable television channel and web site in addition to advertising in a local newspaper of general circulation when advertising for bids for the purchase of items or requests for proposals for professional and other services; and

• Rezoned from residential to commercial an eight-acre site generally bounded by Bobo Road, Old Warren Road and Interstate 530. The property is owned by the W.E. Bobo estate and is to be purchased by the Trotter Ford automobile dealership for construction of a new headquarters. Business spokesman Ford Trotter said only the body shop would remain at the dealership’s current Olive Street location once the projected new construction is complete.

The resolutions:

• Authorized the mayor to execute an agreement for the sale of real property at 405 University Drive at a price of $30,000; and

• Authorized the mayor to sign a letter of engagement with the BK&D Ltd. accounting firm of Pine Bluff for a “high-level risk assessment” audit of the city for the years 2010-13 and prior if deemed necessary, with fees estimated at $15,000-$20,000.

Ordinances receiving second readings call for:

• Directing that the former Army Reserve/National Guard armory at 1000 North Myrtle serve as the new site of the police department’s patrol division; and

• Creating a privilege fee for non-resident employees as a condition of employment with the city, and prescribing the fee amount and its uses.

An ordinance that had been slated for a second reading was pulled from the agenda and tabled. It calls for prohibiting a person in public view from wearing pants or skirts below the waistline that expose undergarments or skin on certain public property.