Landfill Construction, Rail Spur Repair & City Employee Life Insurance Policy Discussed by City Board

The Hope City Board meeting was called to order on May 6 at 7 pm via Zoom virtual conference. The meeting began with the pledge of allegiance and prayer as the board members moved into discussion of the items. The board approved the minutes from last months meeting and moved onto to the next topic. 

Consider Bids: Class 4 LandFill
Bids were opened on March 24, 2020 for the construction of a new cell on the class 4 land fill. The lower bid placed was by an Arkansas licensed contractor, Marsau Enterprises of Enid Oklahoma amounting to $190,450.00. The total bid was said to be quite low compared to the engineering estimate and well within the available funds for the project. City Manager, Catherine Cook stated it shouldn’t be necessary for the borrowing of money for this project. The motion to accept the bid was made by Dr. Clark and seconded for approval by Kiffinea Talley. The motion was passed. 

Consider Waive Bid Ordinance: Rail Repair
The Hexion curve area of the newly remodeled Hope Rail Spur is part of the project that could not be rehabilitated due to the lack of funds after the project was under way. It has been causing some problems because of soil subsidence, drainage issues and rail malfunctions as trains push on the outer curve of the rail passing through that area. Small repairs were made to this area of the track but the lack of funds prohibited a full repair. It was mentioned that last week, a derailment of a train occurred. When these incidents happen, it costs upwards of $35,000 for cranes to come in and fix a significant accident like this due to faulty parts of the track. Many officials have been contacted for the best advice on how to handle the situation. The full repair of the curve is estimated to cost around $68,000. If the project takes place, the engineers involved have said it will be permanently repaired. The amount will be paid from the rail maintenance money that was collected for issues like this. The motion was made by Kiffinea Talley and seconded by Dr. Trevor Coffee. The ordinance was adopted by the board. 

Consider Life Insurance Payment: City Employee
The City of Hope employees are covered under a term life insurance policy provided by the City. This insurance covers death in service and provides benefits equal to employee’s annual income salary. This policy is offered to the City of Hope through the Arkansas Municipal League and paid by the City on a monthly health insurance bill. So if the employee made $30,000 a year, the family would receive that amount after paperwork submission. Recently the City experienced the passing of an employee and it came to be known that after the paperwork was submitted the family only received $35,000, which was $21,538 less than what the employee made in salary. This occurred once before a couple years ago but wasn’t noticed until recently. The Arkansas Municipal League is in agreeance that if the City of Hope board of directors wish to grant the difference of the amount not paid, to the family, they will stand by the movement if it is made. The motion to pay the difference amounting to $21,538 was made by Dr. Coffee and seconded by Mark Ross. The motion passed. 

City Manager’s Report
Manager Cook shared that the city has successfully kept employees busy with work during the time of this pandemic. They are still following guidelines set by the governor and working towards seeing what can be put back into regular motion. The request of a larger event to be held in the swine barn was made but Cook stated that they don’t think that corresponds with the guidelines but the city will look into the request. Cook shared that there was a possible exposure of COVID-19 at the courthouse this week but the situation was handled and no longer poses a threat to any employees. Mark Ross mentioned that people have been asking him about updates on public pool operation. Cook shared that she did not envision the opening of the pool this summer due to all the regulations and that if they are opened they will have major restrictions so it may not be possible. The City will have to make a few budget cuts as the year progresses as the states was lower than predicted. The City will find out more about budget cuts when the complete results of sales tax are in. 

The Mayor stated the next meeting this month will again take place via Zoom and the meeting was adjourned. 

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