Politics

City Manager Contract Renewed at Hope City Board Meeting

The Hope City Board met Tuesday, September 10 with several items on the agenda. With the meeting called to order and opening ceremonies completed, a public hearing took place to discuss the petition brought to the Board by Willie Walker to close an undeveloped portion of Greenwood Street.

There was no opposition to the closing of Glenwood Street. The Board voted to pass the ordinance.

Chad Miller, with Miller, Smith & Company, CPA’s, PLLC presented the audit report to the Board. Miller stated that there was an increase in the overall net revenue to around $937,000.  The main driver of that increase was from grants that were used to fund city projects and contributed to around $800,000 of the total, with the remainder coming from other revenues. The overall ending balance was $4.2 million and split – with $2.2 million in unrestricted funds for the city to use at their discretion for projects and around $2 million in restricted funds that are already earmarked for the city’s use. The city’s long-term debt has decreased to $774,000, a large part due to paying down debt and having no new bond debt and the pension liability has gone down. As in the past, there was a finding of “lack of segregation,” but due to limited staff, there is really no way around that finding. The city would need several employees in order to rectify the lack of segregation finding and it would not be cost beneficial for the city to hire additional personnel at this time. Mayor Montgomery asked if there would be a need to hire an outside accounting firm, but a representative from the Miller, Smith firm stated that another firm would only perform the same tests that Miller, Smith had already performed. Since the finding has no causes for ramifications and the checks and balances between the City Manager and Finance Director show that they are very diligent to make sure expenses are handled appropriately. Mayor Montgomery then asked if the City was in good standing and Miller stated that it is

The Board approved financing for the new residential garbage truck that was bid out earlier this year. Farmers Bank & Trust will finance the 2019 Freightliner at a competitive rate for a 3 year term. The truck was purchased for an amount of $139,250.

The Board approved entering into an agreement with Crist Engineers to begin preparation for the construction of the next Class 4 Landfill cell. There is still capacity left in the current cell, but the approval process is quite lengthy, so construction plans for the cell need to be sent to ADEQ as soon as possible. The Board approved entering into the agreement.

Citizen Randall Ross came to the Board with concerns about 4 Tyson chicken houses being built on West 16th street, approximately 5 blocks from Hope Fair Park and baseball fields. Ross is concerned with potential odors interfering with tourists at the Watermelon Festival, concert and the hundreds of baseball teams that play on those fields during the summer, potentially reducing tourism dollars that come into our city. Ross stated that the land owners have already signed all of their paperwork and permits have been issued for the houses to be built, but urged people to start making phone calls to hopefully reverse the situation. Ross encouraged the Board and citizens to call Tyson Complex Manager, Randy King, State Representative Danny Watson, Senator Larry Teague, as well as the owners of the houses in anticipation that if they receive enough phone calls, they will start looking into the matter.

Hazel Simpson spoke to the Board about signs at the Northside Park. Linda Clark stated that a metal sign at the front entrance of the park is on the agenda. Simpson stated that some other signs had been removed and asked that they be returned. The Board approved a replacement similar to the previous sign be purchased and installed as soon as possible.

The Board went into executive session to discuss the City Manager’s performance review and upon their return, Dr. Trevor Coffee made the motion to extend Catherine Cook’s contract as City Manager for another year. The Board voted to renew the contract by a vote of 6-1, with Mark Ross being the lone vote against the extension.

City Manager Catherine Cook discussed progress on the Rail Project and the 2019 Street Program. The EDA Rail Project is slated to be completed on September 23, 2019. Mayor Montgomery advised that there will be a ribbon cutting ceremony soon after completion. Due to lack of asphalt in the past week, the yearly street program was delayed one week. The project will continue this week, with completion scheduled for end of next week.

Don Still addressed the 6th Street project, requesting an additional bike lane on the north side. The current plan calls for only one lane, located on the south side. City Manager Cook stated that they will address this issue with the Arkansas Department of Transportation.

The next City Board meeting will be held September 17, 2019 at 7:00 p.m.

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