Hope City Board Addresses Millages, Statue Placement

The Hope City Board met Tuesday for their second meeting of September. The Board’s agenda was fairly light for the week, but a couple of the issues spurred lengthy discussions. The Board passed the General Millage and Fireman’s Pension Millage ordinances and voted to approve a recommendation for the placement of bronze statues at Pavilion Park.

Bronze Statues for Pavilion Park

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A set of statues donated to the city by Farmers Bank have been delivered and the city is working on a decision on the location for them to be placed. The statues, a mother and child running toward a train conductor. The Pavilion Park committee met September 11 to decide on a recommendation for the statues’ location. The committee recommended 7-10 feet south of 2nd St. sidewalk and 15-35 feet west of the alleyway with minor adjustments to accommodate underground utilities or irrigation.

One committee member, Jodi Coffee, told the Board that she didn’t agree with the group’s recommendation. Coffee, who is involved with the Hope Farmers’ Market, which operates at Pavilion Park and was instrumental in obtaining the property where the park is located, said that she thinks the statues would be better placed in a different area downtown but sought clarification as to if Farmers’ Bank specifically wanted the statues at Pavilion Park. Coffee said the vendors are very interested in having more concrete poured to allow better access on the 2nd St. side, where the statues were recommended to be placed. Mayor Montgomery said that there is the possibility to expand the concrete pad but that the city will have to get funding together if the decision is ever made to expand it.

Board member Kiffinea Talley requested clarification on the status of the Pavilion Park Committee. Talley said that it was her understanding that the committee was supposed to be limited in scope to the building of the pavilion but that the committee seems to her to have evolved into something else. Talley said certain departments decisions about rental of the pavilion and decisions about the placement of the statues are being influenced by the group. Mayor Montgomery said that it all falls under Parks and recreation and that the advisory committee is a group for downtown that the Board can reach out to for input and ideas from the citizens. Talley said that if that is going to be the case, she thinks that it should be known to the public and that the meeting times and members should be known to the public so that they know who to reach out to with questions or ideas.

After the discussion, the Board voted on accepting the recommendation. Only Board member Trevor Coffee voted against the recommendation.

Ordinance for the General Millage Rate

The Hope City Board voted unanimously to pass the General Millage Rate for the city. The millage ordinance has to be passed every year according to City Manager Catherine Cook. Cook said there is no increase in the millage from last year, when the city brought in $427,358 in taxes from the millage. Board Member Mark Ross said he wanted to make sure that the public understands that the millage is not a new tax and the tax rate has not been raised.

Ordinance to Pass Fireman’s Pension Millage

The Fireman’s Pension Millage was originally passed during the November 5, 2002 election. Funds raised from the millage go toward firefighters’ retirements and to families of deceased firefighters. It is 1 mill and brought in over $84,000 in 2018. Catherine Cook said the fund will probably continue for another 20-25 years. All firefighters, Cook said, now are on a new retirement system and the funds from the millage don’t go toward their retirement. The Board passed the millage unanimously.

City Manager Report

Well Digging: City Manager Catherine Cook said that the contractor laid off for a while and was supposed to finish the project by the first of September but are not finished yet. It is possible, a city employee said, that they could complete their work by the end of the week. Cook said that the project needs to be finished so that they can close the books on the project because the city has to get reports in very soon.

Exhaust Fitting Project at Fire Station: Cook said the project is complete and looks really good. She said that the firefighters are pleased with it. Cook said the city has already received reimbursement for the project.

Landfill Road Paving: Cook said that the decision was made not to pave the road at the landfill as planned due to IP cutting timber in the area. Cook said they don’t want to pave it to have log trucks and equipment damage the road. Cook said that they will look at putting heavy gravel in for the winter but will have to take up the paving at a later date.

Park Playground Equipment: Cook said there is some paving for parking that the city is doing and that park crews are working on preparing the placement locations for the playground equipment that the Parks Department received grants to install. Parks Director Paul Henley said that the equipment is expected to be in in about two weeks but that the contractor installing the Northside Park playground hasn’t been able to make it to the site yet to give his input on the location. Cook said that they will make sure to avoid sewer lines and other obstacles while keeping it close to the restrooms and pavilion so parents can sit under the pavilion while watching their children play.

City Hall Roof: Cook said that the contractor and architect are going to get a close, first-hand look at the roof on city hall before moving to the next stage leading up to repairing the roof, which was damaged during winter storms years ago. Board member Don Still said he would like to see some pricing options on putting a metal roof on it before the city gets too far into the project to take another option than redoing the roof in tile. Still said that issues with the roof have been a constant since he’s been on the board and that he knows that tiling it will be expensive. Cook said that most of the roof is the roof from 1926 and whatever option the Board approves, all the tile will have to be removed and most of the decking replaced. Cook said that once it is finally done that there shouldn’t be any issue with it again in any of their lifetimes. Board member Mark Ross asked about the historical status of the building and Cook said it is not on the Historical Registry but that the city may be able to get it on there in the future.

Wastewater Line

Board member Don Still asked City Manager Catherine Cook about the wastewater line between the wastewater treatment plant and the landfill. The line has caused continuing problems and water doesn’t flow through it as it should. Cook and Assistant City Manager JR Wilson said that engineers, city employees and representatives from the pump companies have looked at the issue, replaced pumps and installed flow meters without resolving the issue. They said they may have to go in and break the line to deal with a stoppage but for the time being, they are attempting to scour out the blockage before taking the more drastic and expensive option. Cook said that the pump company the city contracts with has not run into this issue with this kind of line elsewhere. Wilson said that the engineers have calculated and assure them that the pumps currently being used is more than adequate for the line. Board member Mark Ross asked if the possibility that the pump is the problem has been ruled out. Ross said he was concerned that if they try scouring the line out for the next six months or year and then decide that it is a pump issue, it might cost the city if the pumps’ warranties expire in the meantime. Wilson said that the issue has been thoroughly looked at and the city engineer agrees that the pumps in place should be sufficient for the job.

Citizens’ Request

Land Bank: During Citizens Requests, an unidentified man addressed the board, encouraging the establishment of a land bank and the building of new housing. He argued that it would attract business and retail to the city, help to keep more of the money spent by citizens local and give opportunities for Millennials who he said don’t want to cut grass and go elsewhere to work and live due to lack of opportunities in Hope.

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