Parks and Rec, residency legislation await council


Two ordinances related to recent controversies are slated for their third and final readings at Monday night’s Pine Bluff City Council meeting.

The measures deal with residency requirements for city department heads and a membership expansion and an outlining of obligations to the Parks and Recreation Commission.

Seemingly sparked by Mayor Debe Hollingsworth’s Jan. 1 appointment of Jeff Hubanks as interim police chief, the disagreement over council guidance concerning residency requirements has led to Prosecuting Attorney S. Kyle Hunter’s office and a called council meeting in which Arkansas Municipal League attorney Mark Hayes offered advice.

Hunter declined to pursue nonfeasance charges against Hollingsworth as requested by council members Glen Brown, George Stepps and Thelma Walker, who were seeking the mayor’s removal from office. Hayes warned Hollingsworth and aldermen that the city might be risking costly litigation if it doesn’t scrap two existing conflicting residency ordinances in favor of new legislation.

The Parks and Recreation Commission fray was initiated by a financial shortfall in the department’s 2012 summer youth program. The commission has consisted of five members since its 1970 inception, and Stepps — a former commissioner — insists there’s no need to change that number. Hollingsworth has said she wants the commission to have 11 members so it can better perform committee functions and be more responsive to council operational mandates. But after several council discussions, the latest notion is to up membership by just two.

Other ordinances scheduled for final readings call for:

• Amending current guidance to provide for council review of Planning Commission decisions granting applications for uses permitted on review; and

• Amending guidance pertaining to transient merchants.

Ordinances due for second readings call for:

• Providing guidance on unlawful guidance, including creation of an account to be managed by the Finance Department for purchase of video equipment to monitor sites;

• Amending current guidance to require a survey establishing the boundary line of properties before construction of a fence and wall along the division line; and

• Amending provisions of the non-uniform employees handbook (three separate items).

Ordinances set for initial readings call for:

• Specifying that an occupant load notice be posted in a room or space used for an assembly, and prescribing requirements for the notice; and

• Adopting a continuity of operations plan for the city’s government.

Also to be considered is an ordinance authorizing the sales and conveyance of real property at 5513 W. Short Fourth Ave.

The council session will start at 5:30 p.m., following a Public Safety committee meet at 4 p.m. and meetings of the Ordinance and Resolutions and Ways and Means committees at 5 p.m.