Hope Board of Directors hears financial report, considers concession stand contract, approves Rivera for Tourist board

The second March meeting of the Hope Board of Directors took place Tuesday night and can be seen above. It included, among other things, a February financial report, tabling a decision on who operates the Soccer Field and Kelly Field concession stands, the re-appointment of a member of the city’s Advertising and Tourism Commission and an admission of an error regarding one employee’s retirement fund.

  • After the call to order, invocation, pledge of allegiance and approval of the minutes of the March 7 meeting, Vice-mayor Kiffinea Talley, presiding in Mayor Don Still’s absence, moved to Item 9 on the agenda, Soccer Field and Kelly Field Concession Stand Bids. The high bids, opened March 16, were from Arnetta Bradford, owner of HeBrews 11:1.  The item was tabled until the next meeting by the board after Director Mark Ross mentioned that amendments to the contract would be needed prior to its being awarded.
  • After a discussion of the project, the board asked Sanitation Superintendent Nathaniel Holyfield to seek out quotes of prices to have a cinder block enclosure built around the dumpsters at The Hub. Holyfield said he had also consulted the business leasing one of the dumpsters and received permission. No vote was taken pending Holyfield presenting quotes later.
  • A 2004 Dodge Ram needing a new motor after 225,851 miles that was used by the Sanitation Department was declared surplus and an attempt will be need to sell it by online auction.
  • A rezoning request by Rainbow of Challenges for the property on Patmos Road to be used a small group home for people with developmental disabilities was granted, taking the property from R-1 Residential use to R-2 Medium Density was granted by the board with an emergency clause to allow it to be done more quickly. Vice-mayor Talley said, “I look forward to that development and seeing people with challenges being more independent.” The request had also been approved unanimously by the Planning and Zoning Commission Monday.
  • Juan Rivera, owner of Amigo Juan’s, was re-appointed for another four-year term to the Hope Advertising and Tourism Commission. The Commission had voted a week ago to accept Rivera after his receiving an appointment and recommendation by Mayor Don Still.
  • The February Financial Report was presented by Hope Finance Director Cindy Clark, divided into the various funds the city uses and then within those funds divided into revenues and expenditures. Director Trevor Coffee asked about a lower-than-expected revenue line item for Act 1256 Court Costs. Clark told him this line item would vary at any given time due to when the City distributes revenue to the county and state and when it receives payment. City Manager J.R. Wilson said that a theoretical perfectly divided budget line by month should show 16.7 percent spent per month, meaning that lines significantly above or below that percentage often deserved explanation. Wilson said Sales Taxes were coming in at a 17.8 percent number for February and this was slightly ahead of projections. Director Coffee asked about utility expenses in the Airport Fund, which was shown as already spending 27.5 percent of the budgeted amount. Wilson said Summit Utilities had overcharged customers earlier this year and was making adjustments now in response to public clamor. “This may come down a little bit if that’s our case,” he said.
  • Director Coffee asked about the line for Workers Comp in the Street Fund showing a 72.5 percent expenditure of the year’s budget. “Is this for the year?” Clark responded yes. Wilson said this line would end up coming under budget for the year. Under Waste Water Fund the line for Lift Station Maintenance was shown as spending 10,061.37 for February, resulting in 137.94 percent spending of the year’s budget for this category. Wilson explained this was for an emergency repair on a deep sewer line he authorized near Pleasant Ridge Apartments. West Plant Maintenance was shown at $147,875 for the month, bringing the total spending for the year to 581 percent of the total budged. This was for bladder repair damaged during the ice storm of 2021. Clark said two checks received from the insurance company had been received, the first in 2021 and the second in March covering all but $10,000 of the cost.  Director Coffee asked about the 2.34 percent monthly rate of Debt Service under the Waste Water fund. Wilson said the $4.6 million in bonds had not been used yet since a grant application for $3.95 million to fund a Waste Water project had not succeeded, rendering the debt effectively 1.4 million. “So no harm no foul. We weren’t going to get any money but we aren’t going to spend money said” he said.
  • In the City Manager’s report, Wilson announced the Hope Advertising and Tourist Commission approved covering the remaining $29,000 over budget of the bid for the Kelly Field LED lighting project. The project will either start and finish before the Watermelon Festival or begin after it. Work would not go on during the Watermelon Festival. He said drainage issues at Northside Park will be addressed soon. He also told the board it would need to consider in the next meeting raising water and waste water rates soon to finance buying a bond for a waste water project required by Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality. Director Steve Montgomery said the difficulty with getting a bond from a bank can be attributed to the increase in interest rates over the past year. To support the receiving of new commercial tenants in the Hervey Square complex, Wilson said the city would be considering upgrading the drainage system there. The board would need to approve it if it reached a certain level of expense. Wilson also broke the news that a current Park employee who had been working full-time hours since 2007 without having been enrolled in the city’s retirement system. About $40,000 will need to be paid to make her whole. Discussion followed on measures to be taken to prevent such a lapse from happening again. Wilson also mentioned that the Housing Authority had not yet chosen anyone to fill the vacancy on its commission with the deadline for doing so being March 27. Mayor Still would name someone for the board’s approval if the Housing Authority does not do so by March 27.
  • At Wilson’s request, Sanitation Superintendent Holyfield reported on East Baking Company, formerly Southern Bakeries, deciding to go with Hope for its sanitation services at a cost savings of nearly $8,000 a month for the company. The city would provide the service for $2,100 a month plus tax. Wilson also reported that an independent fee estimate had come back regarding the cost of engineering on the Airport runway drainage project with an estimate of $126,075. The difference from Garver Engineering’s bid was $13,000. Wilson was able, armed with this, bargained Garver down to $132,950, a $6,950 savings. Director Coffee asked what the independent fee cost for the city. Wilson replied it had cost $3,500. “We still came out a little ahead, not much but a little ahead.” He asked the board to authorize him to sign the work order with the new amount. The motion to do so was passed unanimously.
  • Director Ross said 32 light poles would be made part of the Streetscape Project plan. Wilson reported the adjusted work order would be arriving by next meeting.
  • In Citizens Request, a woman living on North Walker reported drainage problems in her yard. Wilson said he would call to schedule a visit to her residence with Street Superintendent Kenneth Harvel to see if the city could legally solve the problem.
  • Interim Police Chief Kim Tomlin said this Friday afternoon starting at 2:00 p.m. in City Hall the city would be saluting Management of Information Director Deena Rothwell was retiring 30 years of service.
  • Ross asked for trash bags to help with a city-wide cleanup. He then asked that County Judge Jerry Crane in family be mentioned in prayers after the passing away of Crane’s spouse, Glanis.

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