Piggott Council Talks Sidewalks, Streets at Regular Meeting

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Members of the Piggott City Council addressed a variety of issues at their regular meeting Monday night. Council heard updates on USDA grant efforts, the street overlay program and the recent Lake Side Market. The meeting dates and times were set for November and December, to address the holiday schedule.

With councilman Mike Cook absent due to being out of town, the meeting was called to order by Mayor Jim Poole. Also in attendance were city attorney Kimberly Dale, city treasurer Jamie Cluck, utilities director Brian Haley and Piggott Police Chief Don Poole.

After reviewing and approving the minutes and clerk's reports, the council turned their attention to matters at hand. As is required each year, they considered the opportunity to purchase death and dismemberment insurance for elected and appointed officials. On a vote of 3-0 it was declined.

Council also discussed the meeting times and dates for November and December, voting to move both. Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, the November meeting has been moved from Monday, Nov. 27, to Tuesday, Nov. 28, and will convene at 6 p.m.

The December meeting, which has seldom been held due to the holidays, has been rescheduled for noon on Thursday, Dec. 28.

“In years past we've not approved our budget until after the first of the year,” Mayor Poole explained. “This year we're going to do everything possible to have it ready for approval at the December meeting.”

The date and time changes were approved by the council without dissent.

The mayor also gave an update on the Lake Side Market, held earlier this month at Heritage Park.

“We've heard a lot of positive things from the vendors and from the businesses here in town,” he explained. “There were 29 vendors and some of them said they sold-out of product. Our local businesses also indicated that had a big day with all the people in town.”

Poole noted many of the vendors intended to return for next year's market, and indicated plans are in the works to hold it again in 2018.

The mayor also reported the city was still in the running for a USDA grant to help pay for an additional police cruiser. “We didn't get it in the last go-around, but we're in line for the next time,” he added.

Based on the fact three of the department's cruisers are out of service, one additional unit is being purchased through Glen Sain.

“We have ordered a 2017 Ford Explorer Police Interceptor from Glen Sain,” Mayor Poole offered. “As long as the cost is not over the state bid amount we can do that without going through the usual process.”

He indicated some of the repair bills on the current cruisers were in excess of the value of the vehicle, and noted the city would continue to seek funds to help pay for their replacements.

“We're currently grading the streets in town from worst to best in order to develop an overlay program for next year,” the mayor added. “We've got several big projects, such as paving West Clay Street out to the Wright's Chapel Church, but we're also going to have to address some smaller streets and projects, too.”

Poole noted some of the streets which needed to be addressed included North Johnson and Heritage Park Road among others.

The mayor also presented the council with the budget for the Northeast Arkansas Solid Waste Disposal District, of which the city and county are members. He reported the landfill had lost about $300,000 when several Missouri companies took their business to Tennessee. But, he indicated the flooding had actually been a good thing for solid waste, with an increase of $347,000 as a result.

“There will be no rate increase for tipping fees in the coming year,” he offered. “We will remain the lowest per-ton landfill in the state of Arkansas. Currently, we charge $26 a ton and I think West Memphis is next at about $36 a ton.”

Poole indicated the landfill was in good financial shape, and implored the council members to review the budget. “It belongs to us, along with the other counties and cities,” he concluded.

He also explained the trust fund which is set-up as a closure fund, should the landfill close. As a side note, Poole also informed council that all of the employees at the landfill north of Paragould are from Clay County.

The future construction of sidewalks was also discussed, along with a review of the original legislation.

“We've discussed this before, but we need to bring back our sidewalk program,” Poole offered. “We'll be looking at the original sidewalk plan, and hope to rehabilitate some of those and add others.”

He indicated his first priority will be to re-build the sidewalk from the downtown area to the local museums. “I'd also like to eventually see a sidewalk out to our city park and one up to the cemetery,” he added.

Based on a city ordinance from the early 1900s, the sidewalks in front of businesses and homes are the property of the landowner, not the city. This also applies to maintenance and upkeep, as the property owner is responsible.

During his update, Haley reported on the completion of a project at the power plant and noted they would begin to test the turbines later in the fall. He also noted the electric department had been trimming trees and following their maintenance schedule.

Haley did comment on the recent power outage, which affected the entire city, noting it was an issue with SPA and did not involve problems in the local system.

In reference to the water department, he indicated they have been installing additional radio-read meters and have replaced a problematic section of water line on Maple Street.

In other business the council--

--Were informed the city will be seeking help from the VFW and American Legion in placing the new Purple Heart City signs.

--Heard that the sale of bonds from the recent issue closed last week, and the city received a good rate.

--Were reminded of budget time, and the fact the city will be attempting to finalize the 2018 draft prior to the end of the calendar year.

--Were informed of the annual Drug Take Back event being held Saturday at the Piggott Police Department.

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