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City Council Committees move forward

Posted Date: 03/21/2024

City Council Committees move forward

City Council Committees move forward

The City Council Committee meetings were held Thursday night, March 14, at 6 p.m. and moved several agenda items to the full council agenda set for March 28 at 6 p.m.

  • City Engineer and COO Wade Phillips spoke to the committee about the Senior Center Building the city owns on East Rush. (Adjacent to the former Chamber of Commerce building.) Phillips told the group, “That organization doesn’t exist anymore. The people who have run it over the years have slowly passed away. And the people who had taken it over decided they didn’t want that responsibility and started turning in keys. We are gathering information to see what we need to do with the property. Let us know if you have any ideas about how it could benefit the city. If we can’t use it, then we’d like to get it sold and put it into the private sector where someone can do something with it. It’s a decent location, right off of Hwy. 65. There is good traffic and good visibility.”

Phillips told the group the building would need some work. The Kiwanis Pavilion was brought up. Phillips agreed that would have to be part of the discussion if the Council wanted to sell the property.

“This was mainly on the agenda as an informational item. We still need to get an appraisal and see the exact property lines, but we wanted you informed,” Phillips said.

  • Also discussed in committees was the bid waiver and budget adjustment for water/sewer vehicle purchases.

“We deferred some vehicle purchases in the past few years because of the difficulty of ordering them and being more than a year before delivery. It made it impossible to budget,” Phillips said. “Based on our needs and use of vehicles, we don’t think the lease program benefits our departments.”

Phillips said they found some vehicles below the state contract price that could be purchased off the lot. He described the different vehicles and the quotes he received. Some of the vehicles will need to be equipped with safety lights. The finance committee voted to move the item to the agenda for the full council’s consideration.

  • The Main Street Beautification project bids were opened recently. Phillips said that B & H Specialities was the low bidder at $453,000. 

“We identified a few options we can deduct and got the price to $355,000,” Phillips said. “From what we budgeted over the past few years, we have this money set aside for this project.” 

Construction plans include trees, benches, updated sidewalks, and better street lighting. The committee voted to move the bid acceptance forward to the council on March 28.

  • An agreement was reached between NARMC and the city to purchase fuel for their ambulances in an emergency – such as the upcoming solar eclipse if there is a shortage.

  • A resolution supported the rehabilitation of Big Oak Apartments, Big Cedar Apartments, and Twin Oaks Apartments.  

Harrison Housing Authority executive director Chonda Tapley said, “We provide voucher assistance to residents of Big Cedar Apartments.” But Big Oak and Twin Oaks has their own funding source for low-income residents from rural assistance.”

Why is this a city rather than a landlord issue? The question was asked.

Tapley explained that the owner is requesting Federal Home Loan Bank grant funding. “These units need rehabilitation, which is a great opportunity to improve our community.”

The Resources and Policy Committee voted to approve the resolution and move it forward to the council.  

  • Sam Boyd from The Entertainment District Committee requested changing the district days and times. The committee voted to remove Sunday liquor sales in the District and lengthen the sales Monday through Saturday to 12 p.m. to 11 p.m. They also ask to restrict the sales during the annual Christmas parade, Scare on the Square Halloween event, Harvest Homeing Festival, and any school-sponsored events such as Homecoming and Color Days parades.

Boyd also said the committee wanted the ability to make small changes in the rules without returning to the council for approval. A discussion was held, and it was decided the City Attorney would speak to the ability to amend the resolution and return a document to the council at the next meeting.

“An expansion of that authority can not happen without the council taking action on it,” Nancy Cartwright said. “The council can determine a broad list of frameworks you want the committee to operate under. Then I believe under your current ordnance, the committee could determine the operating rules for the entertainment district, as long as they don’t go beyond the framework council has set out.”

“They are not asking for the authority to expand the rules but to restrict,” Cartwright said.

Councilman Wayne Cone asked the attorney to prepare the ordnance and amendment for them. The motion allowed the ordinance to be moved to full council.