Prescott City Council Discusses Grants, Solar Power and Land Sales

The Prescott City Council met Monday to address the city’s business for the month. The Council received updates from Director of Economic Development, Mary Godwin, Police Chief Joey Beavers and Prescott/Nevada County Chamber of Commerce Director Jamie Hillery. The Council also heard from members of Park Baptist Church about lots the church is interested in buying from the city and from a citizen who is looking for the city to establish an ordinance related to solar power systems for Prescott residences and business owners.

The Council started their business by unanimously voting to approve the city’s financials and the Prescott Police Department report from October before getting into new business.

Grant for Roof Repair of Potlach Building

Director of Economic Development, Mary Godwin presented information on a grant she is interested in trying to obtain to repair damage to the roof of one of the large buildings at the old Potlatch facility. Godwin told the Council that the roof is in desperate need of repair if the city doesn’t want the building to be a complete loss in the future.

Godwin said she found a 100% grant from the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) for $50,000 that does not require any money out of the city’s coffers. Godwin told the Council that the grant is very competitive and will have many other applicants but if Prescott receives it, the money will go toward repair of the roof at Potlatch. Godwin said she had everything ready to get the application in, which is due by the end of November.

Godwin informed the Council that an estimate to repair the roof came in well over $100,000 and that for the full repair, the city would have to cover the additional expense but if they choose not to put up the money out of the city budget, they will do what they can with the grant money if it’s received.

The Council passed a resolution approving pursuing the grant.

Chamber of Commerce
Chamber Director Jamie Hillery gave the Prescott City Council a brief update on what they are working on and some of their recent events, including the recent Mingle and Jingle. Hillery told the Council that around 120 people attended both nights of the annual event which gives local business owners and entrepreneurs the chance to show residents some of the Christmas shopping options they have right at home.

Hillery informed the Council of upcoming Christmas events including the Prescott Christmas Parade and Christmas on the Square, which will be held at 6 p.m. on December 5 at the Nevada County Courthouse and Breakfast With Santa, which is scheduled for December 14 at the Nevada County Fairgrounds. Hillery told the Council she is grateful for the support from local businesses and community members for their donations for Christmas gifts that will be distributed to area children. Hillery said they have 200 boxes at this time.

Park Baptist Church Land Purchase
Michelle Glass and Robert Poole spoke to the Council on behalf of Park Baptist Church about land the city owns that they are interested in purchasing if the titles are clear.

The Council recently approved the sale of city-owned land near the church for the appraised price of $9,690. Glass said that there are three additional lots that the church was going to ask to have included in the sale but they were concerned the titles wouldn’t be clear due to certificates of indebtedness that they thought might require significant money to be paid to clear the titles for the purchase. Glass said the three lots are located between the church’s fellowship hall and the nearby motorcycle shop.

“We’re growing and need to expand,” Poole said, “but we want to make sure we do everything right.”

City Attorney Glenn Vasser assured Glass and Poole that the lots wouldn’t be impacted by the certificates of indebtedness as they were related to another issue.

Poole and Glass were informed that if the sale of the additional three lots eventually occurs, that the city would have to retain an easement across one of the lots due to a sewer line that runs across the property.

No action was taken on the issue at this time.

Solar Power Ordinance
Local resident Jacob Brown addressed the City Council concerning the implementation of an ordinance regarding solar power use and compensation due to his interest in installing a solar power system. Brown said that he understands that he will be the first in the county to install a solar system hopes it is something the city can implement soon so that he can qualify for tax credits and accurately figure his cost.\

Larry Jones, Electrical Operations Manager for the City of Prescott, told the Council that residences with solar power systems installed will at times throughout the year, not use any of the city’s power and will, instead, be producing power that will be contributing to the city’s electric supply. He told the Council that there are basically three options that they will have to choose between on how to work with citizens who get solar power installed. Jones said the three options are basically to pay the owner the same amount per kilowatt hour that they charge them for electricity from the city, to apply credit for when they are using city power or to pay a reduced rate since to account for transmission fees and other expenses.

City Attorney Glenn Vasser said that the ordinances are complex, and they will look to cities like North Little Rock and Hope for how the ordinance will be drawn up. He said that the Council will have some tough choices to make on the issue.

Brown told the Council that he isn’t looking to get a check and would be fine with credit toward electrical usage. He said he just doesn’t want to end up paying more than he has to.

Mayor Terry Oliver said that they need to get some information and numbers together and meet on the issue at a later time.

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