The Pine Bluff City Council will consider a resolution to cut administrative fees associated with code violations and another resolution calling on President Trump and Congress to preserve the health insurance of more than 10,000 low-income Jefferson County residents under Obamacare.
It will also hear readings of legislation that would cap pay raises for city employees and keep the animal control and code enforcement departments under police department control.
The council meets at 5:30 p.m. in the City Council chambers at Pine Bluff City Hall.
The proposals by aldermen Bill Brumett and Win Trafford to keep code enforcement and animal control under the Pine Bluff Police Department are up for their second readings. Proposed legislation must be read three times before the council can vote on it.
The proposals are a response to a vote by the council in December to detach the Quality of Life Division and the Animal Control Division from the police department. Until 2014 animal control was its own department and quality of life operated under the Pine Bluff Inspection and Zoning Department as the Code Enforcement Department. The council voted to transfer those functions within the police department under former mayor Debe Hollingsworth.
In December the council voted over Hollingsworth’s objections to restore the previous arrangement, with some council members arguing that police officers could be better utilized on patrol.
Brumett and Trafford’s proposals to stop those changes come up Monday against two proposed budget adjustments that would transfer funding for animal control and code enforcement away from the police department. One budget adjustment would move the $482,474 budget for quality of life for 2017 to the Quality of Life Division of the Inspection Department. The other would move the $372,302.53 budget for animal control from the police department to the Animal Control Department.
Up for a first reading is a proposal by Alderman Glen Brown Jr. that would cap raises for city employees. Currently, employees promoted to a higher classification receive an additional raise of one percent of their salary for each year of their employment with the city up to 10 years. Because the city has not raised salaries in recent years, Brown has said some promoted employees end up making more money than co-workers in equivalent positions who have longer tenures with the city.
To avoid that scenario, the proposed ordinance would change the municipal code to award promoted employees “entry level pay for the new position or his or her current pay at the time of promotion, whichever is greater.”
The council will also consider a resolution that would cut administrative fees associated with code violations.
The Planning and Development Committee has reviewed the fees after some property owners complained last year they were too high.
The resolution would reduce processing costs billed to a property owner for a code violation from $125 to $30. It would also reduce costs paid by the city to a contractor to correct a “nuisance condition” from $137.50 to $33.
The council will also consider approving a city resolution calling on President Donald J. Trump and the Congress to protect the health insurance of Pine Bluff residents. Trump and congressional Republicans have promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act, through which more than 20 million Americans receive insurance coverage.
The resolution asks Trump and Congress not to repeal the ACA “without simultaneously enacting a replacement plan” that: provides affordable and accessible care for all Americans; guarantees no one currently receiving care under the ACA would lose their insurance coverage or face gaps in coverage; and guarantees that coverage is as or more comprehensive and affordable than care under the ACA.
As of December 2016, 10,857 Jefferson County residents received health insurance coverage through the Private Option funded by the Medicaid expansion provision of the Affordable Care Act, the resolution states.
Those residents pay average monthly premiums of $351.81, according to the resolution. Repeal of the ACA would cost those residents a monthly total of $3,616,983 in health benefits and an annual total of $43,391,799, the resolution estimates.
The loss of those benefits would “adversely impact the health of the people of Jefferson County, weaken the local economy, and increase the amount of uncompensated care at Jefferson Regional Medical Center,” the resolution states.