After the opening prayer, the pledge of allegiance and the approval of the minutes of last month’s meeting, the council examined the August financial reports. Councilman Howard Austin asked about a change to the budget but was told by Mayor Terry Oliver this issue would be addressed in New Business later.
Councilman Ivory Curry moved that the financial report for August be approved. Councilwoman Patricia Roberts seconded and the motion was approved.
Prescott-Nevada County Chamber of Commerce Director Jamie Hillery provided the council with a calendar of events for the next month and a report on what the chamber has done since August. “We’ve got a lot coming up,” she said. “We’ve got ribbon cuttings. We’ve got community coffees. We’ve got community garage sales, fall festivals, Trick or Treat on Elm Street. So our office has been very busy getting all those things planned.”
The new Love’s store will have its ribbon cutting, Hillery said, on October 3rd at 10:30 a.m. The store itself will open this coming Thursday, September 21st. (Later in the meeting, Hillery said the Bojangle’s restaurant will not be open on these dates.) On Thursday the 21st will also be the First United Methodist Church Coffee, which will begin at 9:30 a.m. at the church.
Hillery also thanked those involved with the recent Nevada County Fair. “It was just a wonderful turnout this year. I know that all the city departments really pitched in on that, so thank you guys all.”
Next to report was Chief of Police Ann Jordan. She said one officer has gone to Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Camp. “He left last Sunday. He’s made it a week. So we’ve been sending out kudos to him through text, saying we’re all behind him, and we’re just waiting for him to graduate and come back. She also announced that Halloween trick or treating is planned for October 31st, which falls on a Tuesday this year. Trick or Treat on Elm Street is also set for that day.
Officer Mae McKinnon was then dispatched to retrieve Eros, the new K-9 officer who will be joining the Prescott PD. Eros, a nearly two-year-old German Shepherd, was brought into the Senior Center to meet the city officials. Officer McKinnon reported Eros still has some training yet to complete but Chief Jordan said, “He’s doing what he’s supposed to do on the streets.”
The next item for the council was the yearly approval, required by state law, of the five mill city property tax ordinance. The council unanimously voted for this ordinance, which is already being collected and would add no more property taxes for Prescott residence than what is already being levied.
An amendment to this year’s budget was distributed to all the council members. Carl Dalrymple, City Accountant, said an additional $73,000 was placed in the budget. “We’re actually reducing expenditures in the budget enough whereby it’s positive for the budget this time. We had to increase some expenditures, but we had to decrease some, and we did have some extra revenue,” he said, and thanked the budget committee of the city council for its help.
Austin asked about the library budget number, which was increased from $55,000 to $65,000. “Are we the only ones supporting the library? Does the county have any resources over there?”
Dalrymple replied that the county provides the funds of the library millage that the county collects. “That’s all they’re obligated for,” he said and added that under the current interlocal agreement, the city pays for any costs for the library in excess of what the library gets from its millage, which is about $24,000 a year.
Austin said each of the city/county interlocal agreement need to be reviewed “to see if we’re both sharing pretty close to what we need to do.” Dalrymple agreed. Councilman Curry also supported this idea. “We’re just not able to spend money like we used to spend it,” he said. Dalrymple agreed with this too. “The city was able to do a lot more when we had Potlatch sitting out there,” he said, adding that the budget committee would be starting a month earlier than last year.
The city council then approved the budget amendment to add $73,000 unanimously.
Next, Water and Sewer Department Head Perry Nelson spoke of an offer by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to share weather data with Prescott in exchange for being allowed to place a radar unit on top of the city’s water tower next to Holcim. Nelson said under the terms of the agreement, which has not yet been signed, Climavision, a Louisville company contracting with NOAA, would lease the space on the tower. The radar would help fill the gaps in radar coverage in the region.
Some city council members expressed disappointment that the city would not be paid anything for the lease. Before moving on, Nelson told the council, several of whose members said they needed more information, he would do further research into the issue and try to have Climavision present the project to the council in a future meeting.
Nelson also revealed that in the coming months, the department will be trying to learn how many lead pipes are being used by Prescott residents. This may result in department employees having to dig into local yards. The purpose is to report to the Environmental Protection Agency how many such pipes may need eventual replacement because of the effect they may have on whether the city’s water service can meet federal standards.
The information gathered will be given to anyone who wants it, Nelson said. “Everything we do has to be made public. So if you want to check on your service line, you can call the City Hall. We’ll find your address and see what kind of water service you have to your house.”
Nelson was asked what would come after the EPA knows this information. Nelson said he did not yet know. He said he thought only a few lead pipes were still being used in Prescott in older sections of town whose infrastructure might date as far back as over a century.
About the opening of the new Love’s location, Nelson praised the project’s water and sewer work and said “This Love’s is a first-class operation.”
Mayor Oliver mentioned that city officials including Office Manager Bruce Bean, Electric Operations Manager Larry Jones, Water and Sewage Superintendent Perry Nelson, Prescott Electic Department Head Jake Cornelius and Prescott-Nevada County Economic Development Corporation Director Mary Godwin were involved in bringing the new store into being. He also said, “A lot of people don’t realize this, but they have hired over 100 people to work at the store. So we’re real thankful that Love’s chose Prescott, Arkansas.”
The mayor also said he’d heard about the excitement about Bojangle’s, which he said would likely draw customers from outside the Prescott area.
The Municipal League Annual Conference is now taking early bird reservations, the Mayor announced, so that council members could take advantage of lower rates.
He asked for any announcements of announcements from the council. Councilman Austin thanked the citizens for voting in favor last month of the sales tax to retire electrical service debt. He then asked about the drainage grant. The Mayor listed several areas where work would be proceeding to help with drainage in the town. Bids submitted by contractors for the work will be opened Tuesday, September 26th.
Council member Satarra Williams asked how the search for the next city attorney is progressing. Mayor Oliver said there wasn’t a big hurry on it since the Municipal League has ten lawyers on its staff. The city is also saving about $2,500 a month while there’s a vacancy. He did say that seven lawyers had applied for the position.
“Will you tell us the date that the sales tax goes into effect?” Councilman Curry asked. “January 1st,” the Mayor said. The paperwork has been filed allowing for the tax to be collected.
Curry announced that the Community Feed at Curry’s Outreach Center will be this Saturday at 11:00 a.m.
In Citizens’ Communication, one participant spoke about not being able to get through on the Prescott Police Department’s non-emergency number and finding the station locked at times. The other participant, Adam Beck, asked that something be done about a decrepit structure that he said kids could get into and be hurt.
Officer Mae McKinnon with new Prescott Police Department K-9 Officer Eros, a young German Shepherd who will be two years old October 23rd.