Scrap metal dealers are bill’s target

Pine Bluff Alderwoman Thelma Walker said an ordinance she’s sponsoring is aimed at strengthening existing city guidance concerning the purchase of copper and other scrap metals by scrap metal dealers and recyclers.

Walker’s measure is up for its initial reading at Tuesday night’s city council meeting, which is slated for 5:30 p.m. at the civic center. The ordinance and resolutions and ways and means committees will meet at 5. The council typically meets on the first and third Monday of each month, but Monday is a national holiday (Martin Luther King Day).

Walker said her proposal outlines “the council’s desires to strengthen the city’s rules and regulations pertaining to the operation and reporting requirements of scrap or junk dealers and recyclers” to help combat a continuing problem with copper and other metal thefts.

The amendment would require dealers and recyclers to utilize an “electronic format” in reporting to the Pine Bluff Police Department on the first day of each month a record of all purchases of nonferrous and scrap metals.

Initial failure to comply with the order would be considered a misdemeanor offense for which conviction would carry a fine of $500 to $1,000 or a 10-day jail sentence. Penalties on subsequent offenses would increase to a $1,000 fine or a 30-day jail sentence or both. Also, knowingly providing false information in submitted purchase records would be considered a misdemeanor offense for which conviction would carry a fine of $500 to $1,000 or a jail sentence of 10 to 30 days.

“We’ve got to do something to try to stop the theft of copper and other metals,” Walker said. “In many cases, people aren’t able to keep rental properties in livable condition because of such thefts. There are criminals among us that will do thousands of dollars in damages to homes or businesses to steal copper that they may get only $25 or $30 for.”

The council will also be considering five other ordinances and four resolutions.

Ordinances up for third and final readings call for:

• Amending current guidance concerning speed breakers or bumps.

• Adopting the 2012 edition of the International Existing Building Code for city reference.

• Revising the policy, procedures and guidelines manual of the fire department (three separate measures).

The resolutions call for:

• Directing that city directors, including the chief of police, immediately comply with city residency requirements for department heads.

• Renaming a portion of Catalpa Street to Saint DeWitt Hill Street.

• Appointing Win Trafford to the advertising and promotion commission.

• Declaring certain houses, buildings and/or structures as nuisances and ordering their abatement.

The Alderman George Stepps-sponsored resolution on residency requirements was discussed at length in a council administration committee meeting on Friday. After about an hour of comment and debate, the three-member committee — chaired by Stepps — decided that the measure, which had already been placed on Tuesday night’s agenda, is to be discussed by the full council.

The full council and Mayor Debe Hollingsworth participated in Friday’s committee session.