Piggott Council Meets
Members of the Piggott City Council gave the go-ahead for an improvement project on North 12th Avenue at their regular meeting Monday night. The aldermen also agreed to rescind an earlier measure which allowed for the sale of the former Woodhall building, as the city-owned property has been earmarked for conversion to a fire station for the east side and for storage. The 2016 Job Stimulus Funding Board budget was also approved, and council agreed to allow the process to begin to re-finance water bonds in order to take advantage of the current lower interest rates.
With all members in attendance the meeting was called to order by Mayor Jim Poole. Also on hand were City Clerk Ramona Magee, City Attorney Kimberly Dale, City Treasurer Jamie Cluck, Utilities Manager Brian Haley and Mike Scott, with the Job Stimulus Funding Board.
After dispensing with the approval of the minutes, and clerk's report, the council turned their attention to the budget for the Job Stimulus Funding Board. Scott indicated the fund stood at $533,149.60 as of Jan. 1, and estimated income of $800 from interest and $5,000 for payments received for loans and leases in the coming year.
Estimated administrative expenses were set at $10,000, with another $10,000 for maintenance expenses for the city-owned properties and another $1,000 in miscellaneous expenses. Acquired project liabilities were estimated at $50,000 and another $100,000 earmarked for possible loans and property acquisition. This equated to projected expenditures of $171,000 which leaves a balance of $367,949.60 available as of Dec. 31.
The budget also takes into account insurance settlement funds received for ice damage to the old Aerial Bouquets building in excess of $51,000 and a partial payment of $30,000 for work and materials for the repair to Hobbs Siding. An additional $5,425.37 was also paid to the city for monies received from the insurance settlement for ice damage to the roof of the community center.
Poole noted Scott, and the other members of the board, had been excellent stewards of the fund. "A lot of people don't understand how it's set-up, but these funds can only be loaned-out, and are then repaid at a low interest rate," he explained.
Scott added the most recent loan was to Aerial Bouquets for upgrading their computer system, and the note was just recently retired.
Council members voted to accept the proposed budget on a vote of 4-0.
Poole also updated council members on the efforts to widen North 12th Avenue, in an effort to improve safety and drainage. Last week, at the request of homeowner Danny Carter, Poole and members of the council toured the area in question, which is located adjacent to the Westside Church of Christ parking lot.
"Thanks to the cooperation of Danny (Carter) we're going to take out several of the trees on the west side of the road and move the ditch back. There are places there where two trucks can't pass because it's too narrow." Poole explained. "We also plan to cut and cover the ditch on the other side and we need your approval to move ahead."
Carter, who owns the property immediately south of the church, was on hand at the meeting and voiced his support for the effort. "The trees are on my property, they're mine, and I want them removed," he offered. "My wife wants them removed, and I want them removed, too."
Poole indicated a number of the trees will be removed, allowing for the widening of the roadway and improvements to the ditch. He also noted the landowner adjacent to the Carter property, Jeff Howell, was not interested in having the trees on his property removed at this time. "But, we may have a little room to move the ditch back," Poole added.
On a vote of 4-0 the alderman gave the effort a vote of confidence, and instructed Poole to proceed.
Council members also voted to rescind an earlier measure which allowed Poole to negotiate the sale of the former Woodhall building. At the earlier meeting council had given the go-ahead to attempt the sell the former factory building, but a new plan has been formulated.
"We would like to keep the building and convert a portion of it into a fire station for the east side of town," Poole offered. "When we rotate fire trucks the next time the pumper we plan to have on the east side won't fit in the station we currently have--the one that opened in the late 1960s."
The mayor also noted storage has become an issue, and retaining the building would provide more options. "We have a lot of equipment that needs to be under cover, and this would allow us a lot more space," Poole added.
"Things are pretty crowded at the fire station," Fire Chief Brian Haley offered. "With adequate room we could have a pumper, brush truck and service truck with the Jaws of Life on the east side, along with the equipment we have at the main station. I know there are pieces of equipment the electric department has that need better storage, and the water department's sewer machine needs to be kept inside."
Poole indicated the availability of storage in the Woodhall building would also allow the city to sell their current storage building on South Third. "We could then sell that building and use some of the funds for the improvements and repairs required to the Woodhall building," he surmised.
Without dissent, the council voted to rescind the earlier measure and allow the project to proceed, with regards to allowing the current tenant, Freedom Hobbs, adequate time to make other arrangements.
Council members also voted 4-0 to allow city officials to begin the process of re-financing water bonds through Crews and Associates. "By re-financing these now we can save around $80,000 over the life of the issue," Poole explained. "We would be able to use some of those funds to help with the improvements and provide us a bit of a cushion. We also need to look into purchasing another back-up generator to be used with the one we have."
Haley also reviewed several repair projects which are currently in the works involving the lift pumps for the wastewater treatment plant, but indicated the work could be done without raising rates.
"I know you don't like to have to spend money like this, but it's needed," Poole surmised.
The aldermen voted 4-0 to allow the effort to move forward.
In other business the council--
Transferred ownership of the 1941 fire truck to the Piggott Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors. Poole indicated the chamber planned to raffle the truck off as a fundraiser, with the drawing tentatively set for July 4.
Agreed to change the date for the May meeting due to a conflict. The meeting, which had been set for May 23, will now be held at 6 p.m. Monday, May 16.
Authorized Poole to sign an ownership letter concerning the Campbell Health Clinic in order to meet Medicare compliance.
Voted to allow the sale of the former chipper truck at the upcoming Piggott FFA farm equipment auction.
Approved a resolution of support of Career Readiness Certifications from the Workforce Program.
Were informed of an ongoing effort to convert the city-owned electric system from an SPP to network service for monthly metering. According to Haley, the savings would easily outweigh the costs of the program.
Following a brief executive session the council reconvened, but no action was taken. Poole did note that none of the council members had any objections with placing "In God We Trust" stickers on the back of Piggott police cars and other vehicles, and added they would soon be featured on all city-owned vehicles.