Piggott Council Review State of the City Address

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Members of the Piggott City Council reviewed Mayor Jim Poole's state of the city address at Monday night's regular meeting. The aldermen also approved an ordinance which, at least temporarily, dissolves the Parks and Recreation Commission, came to an agreement with the Piggott Little League organization on the operations of Independence Park and discussed proposed improvements to city-owned farm land. Council also gave the go-ahead on a plan to refinance water bonds, with the expected windfall earmarked for several projects.

During his update to council, Mayor Poole also reported former Piggott policeman Scott Redmon had agreed to rejoin the local department.

With all members in attendance, along with City Clerk Ramona Magee, City Treasurer Jamie Cluck and Utilities Director Brian Haley, the meeting was called to order. City Attorney Kimberly Dale monitored the meeting by conference call and also on hand was Mike Patterson, candidate for Clay County Judge.

"The city concluded the year within budget and did not have any substantial purchases, with the exception of a truck and snowblade for the street department," Poole's state of the city address offered. "The year was a time for maintenance for the city. A large amount of time was spent on repairs to Heritage Park, the streets and other infrastructure in the city."

The mayor also applauded the efforts of the city workers, and noted one area which is paying dividends.

"Thanks to the good work of the fire department and the water department, our (fire insurance) rating dropped from a 5 to a 4 for this year, and I am already seeing a savings on my home owners insurance as a result," he explained. "But, I want to thank all the city employees for their hard work."

Poole also outlined some of the plans for 2016, his second year in office.

"This year will see an increase in street and drainage maintenance, as well as more attention to abandoned houses, junk in yards and overgrown lots and yards," he added. "And, of course the major financial outlay this year will be the community center roof."

Ordinance 628-16

Council considered, and approved an ordinance which effectively dissolves the Parks and Recreation Commission. "This repeals Ordinance 277 of 1978 which originally set up the commission," Poole explained. "Under the current set-up the state is requiring us to dissolve the commission and vest the city council and mayor with the responsibility. We may choose to change it back at some point in the future, but we have to pass this ordinance to be compliant with the state."

The ordinance was placed on all three readings, and approved without dissent. The aldermen also approved the accompanying emergency clause on a vote of 4-0.

The council also discussed at length requested improvements to the city-owned farmland near the sewer lagoon, which is currently being leased by Brock Russell.

"Brock has asked if we'd be interested in either selling him the land, or making improvements," Poole explained. "He's asking that we drill a 16-inch well and level the property. In return he will agree to lease the land for at least five years."

The mayor noted Russell also offered to do the land leveling at the cost of fuel, but requested right of first refusal if the parcel were to be sold in the near future. The estimated cost of the well was set at $20,000 and land leveling costs were estimated in excess of $36,000 if contracted.

"Basically, we'd get the land leveled for about $4,000 but would have to pay for the well," Poole added. "But, it would also increase the value of the land, so I don't see how we could go wrong."

The aldermen concurred and agreed to allow negotiations with Russell on the effort.

"Of course, any deal would have to be approved by the full council," Pooled added.

Council members also reviewed, and approved, an agreement with the Piggott Little League organization for this year's operations of the ball fields at Independence Park. The matter had been reviewed at a previous meeting, but a signed agreement was required by the state to meet their standards. The aldermen then gave their approval of the plan for the coming summer.

The aldermen also approved a measure to refinance city water bonds, as funds are needed for several projects.

"We are currently planning to have the water tower near the Darling plant sandblasted and re-painted, and have been advised it would be much better to go ahead and have the inside done at the same time," Haley told the council. "We're also in need of another back-up generator, in addition to the one at the water tower in South 12th and the portable one we have trailer mounted."

During earlier meetings Haley had outlined the need for another generator, noting it would be key to keeping the city in both water and sewer services during an extended outage.

"If we get a new one it will have to be EPA Tier 4 compatible, so we'd be looking at about $104,000, but we are also looking at the possibility of a used one for much less," he added.

The plan calls for refinancing the current water bond at a lower rate, and utilizing the interest saved over the life of the note to pay for the other items.

"We're looking to step into a better rate, so the savings will be realized in the debt service," Poole explained. "We won't pay any more, it should be less. But we need permission to negotiate with the underwriters. And, again any agreements would have to be approved by the council."

The aldermen voted 4-0 to allow the process to continue.

Late in the meeting the council also voted to allow the purchase of a used truck for the electric department, to be used as the chipper truck.

"We have located a truck that would be ideal. It is a 2000 Ford F-350 four-wheel-drive diesel with electric/hydraulic lift steel bed and only 47,000 miles," Haley offered. "It is a local truck and we know the history of the vehicle, and the asking price is $15,000, which is fair."

It was noted the truck was not budgeted for 2016, but Haley indicated the necessary monies were available in the equipment fund. The purchase was approved without dissent.

He indicated the electric department has been doing some tree trimming and line work, while the water department has been installing the new radio-read meters.

Prior to adjourning Poole also reported that Redmon had been re-hired by the Piggott PD. A local native and 1992 PHS grad, Redmon had left the city several years ago to seek other interests.

"With the addition of Scott the police department will be back to full manpower with the exception of our chief," Poole said of the hire. For a number of weeks Chief Don Poole has been on medical leave.

Haley also reported a new employee has been added at MLWS, as Bo Blackburn is a new addition to the staff.

In other business the council--

* Tabled a review of the Job Stimulus Board financial statement, and overview of efforts.

* Agreed with the recommendation to appoint Terry Allen to the Airport Commission, to fill out the unexpired term of Rodney Rouse.

* Named Dale Grimes to a position on the Planning and Zoning Commission at the recommendation of the current members.

* Discussed an offer by Freedom Hobbs to purchase the former Woodhall building, located just west of the Piggott Community Center. The aldermen also voted to allow negotiations on the possible sale.

* Were informed of a letter from the state which indicated all GIF (General Improvement Fund) monies had been frozen due to a lawsuit. According to Cluck, the freeze also affected a grant the city had acquired along with other local agencies for the purchase of body cameras.

* Voted to allow the sale of a 2005 Chevrolet Impala police car at the annual Piggott FFA auction, set for April 2.

* Briefly discussed the possibility of acquiring a drug dog for the Piggott PD in the future, but chose not to pursue the matter.

* Heard an update on the MLWS campaign to attract more customers to their draft payment plan and E-mail billing. Haley noted 32 had signed-up for the draft program, many with multiple properties, and 20 had signed-up for the E-mail billing.

* Were informed of efforts to clear debris from intersections along West Clay Street, with emphasis on the intersections at 10th, 11th and 12th streets.

* Heard that the city may have the opportunity to widen North 12th Street, near the intersection of U.S. Highway 62.

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