Council OKs animal shelter architectural assessment

After being placed on the calendar during a May 6 meeting, a resolution authorizing the mayor to contract with the local Reed Architectural Firm for an assessment on a proposed remodeling, repair or replacement of the city’s animal shelter was approved Monday night by the Pine Bluff City Council.

The council — with Alderman Lloyd Holcomb Jr. absent because of illness — gave the measure unanimous support.

Several council members had previously objected to the ordinance, questioning its particulars as related to a 2011 voter-approved five-eighths cent sales tax with revenues tied to bond issues on several capital improvements projects. In its final form, the legislation states that one of the approved purposes was “in the maximum aggregate principal amount of $1.16 million for the purpose of financing all or a portion of the costs” associated with the animal shelter project.

Available funding for the undertaking is estimated to be $1.05 million, of which the projected fee for architectural and engineering services will be $100,000.

“The final decision regarding repair or remodeling of the existing facility or the construction of a new facility” at its present site or elsewhere “as well as the project’s final budget, all actual appropriations and contracts for the work, must be approved by the city council before commencement of the project,” the ordinance reads.

Responding to quizzing by Alderwoman Thelma Walker, Mayor Debe Hollingsworth said the property on which the animal shelter sets has been legally detached from Martin Luther King Park by remapping the park.

In other business, the council approved eight other resolutions and four ordinances and heard first readings on four other ordinances.

The resolutions:

• Declared certain houses, buildings and/or structures as nuisances and ordered their abatement;

• Amended a previously approved resolution to delete a property declared to be a public nuisance;

• Authorized the city to negotiate for the acquisition of property in the 400 block of East 12th Avenue, near The Salvation Army headquarters;

• Commended Vivian Flowers for service to the community as a member of the Pine Bluff Historic District Commission;

• Reappointed Marlene Davis-Lilly and Dave Sadler to the historic district commission (separate resolutions);

• Appointed Harold D. Terry to the historic district commission; and

• Authorized and directed the mayor to utilize the local BK&D Accounting Firm to audit the financial records and transactions of city government for the calendar years 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 and earlier years if necessary.

The approved ordinances:

• Defined “fixed assets” of the city and directed that all city agencies and departments create and maintain a list of such;

• Closed a portion of an alley located north of West Fourth Avenue between Larch and Juniper Streets;

• Provided for the rezoning of 2.5 acres on Texas Street; and

• Closed West 15th Avenue between Taft and Redbud Streets.

Ordinances receiving initial readings call for:

• City departments and agencies to begin utilizing the city’s local cable television channel and web site along with a local newspaper of general circulation in advertising for bids for the purchase of items or requests for proposals for professional or other services (referred to the ways and means committee for consideration);

• Prohibiting persons in public view from wearing pants or skirts below the waistline that expose undergarments or skin on certain public property;

• Directing that the former Army Reserve/National Guard Armory at 1000 North Myrtle Street serve as the new site of the police department; and

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