Council vote possible on privilege fee

Alderman Steven Mays’ revised ordinance proposing a “community friendly privilege fee” to be imposed on future municipal department heads who choose to live outside the city is due for its third and final reading and a vote at Monday night’s Pine Bluff City Council meeting.

Mays wants four percent of the gross wages of non-resident administrators hired after Dec. 31, 2013, to be withheld from their salaries and placed in a set-aside fund. Money from the fund would then be used for “promotion of youth employment and prevention of juvenile crime and delinquency for youths aged 13-18, the covering of drainage and over ditches, and construction and improvement of sidewalks along the city streets.”

The measure states that affected supervisors who move into the city would “no longer be subject to the fee unless he or she once again moves outside the city.”

Also on the agenda are four additional ordinances and nine resolutions.

An ordinance calling for earlier bar closings at commercial establishments and private clubs is due for a final reading and vote. The proposal has stirred public debate on the question of individual liberties, but Mayor Debe Hollingsworth — the measure’s lead sponsor — said the “real” issue is “public safety.”

The mayor — who says increased public safety was the primary desire of constituents she met during her campaign — and Interim Police Chief Jeff Hubanks say that trouble calls to police and traffic problems double between 2 and 4 a.m. at the establishments, disallowing police officers from focusing on patrols and prevention of commercial and residential burglaries.

Public comments on the matter will be received during a 4 p.m. public safety committee meting. The council session will start at 5:30, immediately following a combined meeting of the ordinances and resolutions, and ways and means committees.

Ordinances due for first readings call for:

• Waiving competitive selection and authorizing the mayor to contract with Local Government Services LLC for cable television franchise fee-payment compliance services and appropriating contract funds;

• Amending the 2013 budget to add a line item for council members to be reimbursed for travel expenses; and

• Amending three resolutions to delete properties declared to be public nuisances.

The resolutions call for:

• Modifying the job title for the interim director of economic and community development;

• Authorizing the mayor to convey four lots in the Eureka Heights Addition;

• Directing the mayor to proceed with the rehabilitation and renovation of the Joe Thomas Public Safety Building and former U.S. Army National Guard/Reserve Armory as sites for police department agencies and personnel;

• Authorizing the mayor to purchase real property at 1021 South Plum Street;

• Authorizing the mayor to sell and convey real property at 1101 Main Street;

• Authorizing the mayor to sell and convey real property at 720 Cypress Street;

• Amending a standing resolution, awarding the Jefferson County Development Corporation federal CHDO HOME funds for the 2011 contract year; and

• Awarding the Jefferson County Community Development Corporation project proceeds from sale of property.