Rector City Council Talks Trash Rates, Tiny Houses
An important safety issue was brought to the council's attention by a member of the public, at the monthly Rector City Council meeting held Monday. Marvin Gatewood, who has spent much of the past six months working at the Underwood building on Main Street, stated the many 18-wheelers rumbling and speeding down Main Street are dangerous in several ways. “They top the hill at 40 m.p.h. and roar down Main Street, shaking windows and undermining the safety of pedestrians and motorists. They could not stop at that speed should the need arise,” he explained. “That’s why the 25 mph speed limit is for Main Street. Their weight and speed also shake these old downtown buildings, undermining bricks and mortar.”
Gatewood suggested that if the city did not want to issue a ticket, issue a warning, or simply “turn the blue lights on the truck as a warning.” Gatewood also mentioned the rampant disregard of stop signs in the city. Mayor Roofe and Police Chief Glenn Leach indicated they were aware of the problems and will look into finding some kind of solution.
One of the most pertinent issues brought to the council by city superintendent Todd Watson was the attempt by people to declare a small storage building a “tiny house.” He noted this problem surfaced several months previous with the permit being denied. Watson added the issue continues to surface because there is no specific wording in the Zoning Ordinance 359 regarding what constitutes a minimum, viable home.
Council members David Romine and Lark Sigsby agreed that an additional provision was needed for the ordinance to give correct guidance for persons wishing to build a house on a small lot in Rector. For consideration, Sigsby mentioned standard building codes and minimum square footage for residences. Researching fire codes was also mentioned as appropriate for input. Fire Chief Hutie Bowden stated that the new fire codes will address appropriate egress with specific codes for size of windows and doors. The ability for water, sewer, and electricity to be added to the structure as for all residences was mentioned.
Mayor Roofe noted she had investigated material available through the Municipal League which has statements regulating the minimum square footage for a so-called tiny house, emphasizing that a portable shed or metal building does not constitute a tiny house. In response, city attorney Kimberly Dale will conduct further research and report to the council at the December meeting.
Mayor Roofe advised the council that Allen Shelton, of Shelton Sanitation, had provided her with a letter concerning increased sanitation fees for the upcoming five-year contract. Mayor Roofe explained that while under the current contract the City of Rector had not received any increase in fees, although other municipalities’ contracts, fees have increased. To bring Rector in line with appropriate fees, the sanitation fee will be raised by $1.60 per month, bringing the monthly fee to $12.25. The new rate goes into effect beginning March 1, 2019.
The Woodland Heights Cemetery Board, in a courtesy request, asked council to approve Stephen Simmons to fill the position on the cemetery board vacated at the death of his father, Richard Simmons. Council member Sigsby gave the motion to approve with Romine offering the second. All approved.
The 2019 budget was presented by Mayor Roofe to the council. As customary, the council was instructed to take the packet home for review. Mayor Roofe will call a special budget meeting for specific questions and answers, and discussion regarding bonus consideration and the ability to provide raises for city employees. The entire budget for 2019 must be approved prior to Jan 1, 2019, Romine reminded the council.
The City of Rector Water Department audit was paid in five pay periods this month and equipment repairs were higher. Superintendent Watson also mentioned the Sanitary Survey recently conducted. He has been asked by officials to research the overall benefits of adding fluoride to city water as it is a corrosive acid. For 60 years, fluoride added to water supplies has been a public health standard. Superintendent Watson said that he’d received notice that cities under 5,000 residents are not required to add the chemical to water supply. Dental associations have long been on the record in support of a safe method of reducing cavities in adults and children. The additive whose long-term benefit is currently being questioned is monitored daily, reported, and audited by the Arkansas State Department of Health. The council will be conducting research through the Municipal League, Mayo Clinic, and other reliable sources to address current concerns that fluoride contributes to significant corrosion within the city’s water infrastructure.
In the code enforcement report, Watson stated the city had picked up 15 dogs and had issued three certified letters from the list given to him by council at the last meeting. Watson also reported that seven street repairs had been made and that the LED lighted stop signs requested by Rector School District have arrived and are ready to be installed. The LED lights will be programmed to coincide with school hours and will be placed at the designated crosswalks on 5th Street.
The report for the Rector Community Center listed six paid events and six non-paid events bringing in $370 in fees. The Rector Fall Craft Fair will be held on Saturday, Nov. 17, at the Community Center. Sigsby reminded the council that on Sunday, Nov. 18, a traditional Thanksgiving meal will be served to the entire community at no charge. Area churches are providing and serving the meal at noon at the community center. Those who wish may bring canned goods for all of Rector’s food banks.
Fire chief Bowdin reported a normal month for October and promises an open house for the fire house “soon.”
Police chief Leach reported one accident and a docket of 39 court cases bringing in $2,150 in fines. Three car letters have been sent and two yard citations have been delivered.
Superintendent Watson stated the three properties have been sent certified letters, as directed by council at the October meeting, and were ready for the next step. City Attorney Dale had written the letters and is preparing the resolutions and conducting the title research as required by Ordinance 498 for condemnation. The letters advise that council would hear objections at at hearing set for 6 p.m. prior to the regular December meeting. Following the hear, Dale will prepare the condemnation resolutions due to the properties being deemed a public nuisance. This process should continue at the January meeting, depending on the outcome for each property. Those involved included 402 East 1st Street, 503 East 4th Street and 714 Greenville.