A Pine Bluff Police Department request to borrow nearly $800,000 to buy 19 new patrol vehicles and 45 patrol vehicle video camera systems is up for a first reading before the City Council.


The council meets Monday, March 20 at 5:30 p.m. at Pine Bluff City Hall.


Ordinances must be read aloud at three meetings before the council can vote on them. If left unchanged, the police department’s request will likely receive a vote in April.


Under the proposal, the City of Pine Bluff would take out one or more tax-exempt municipal leases with U.S. Bancorp Government Leasing and Finance, Inc. U.S. Bancorp “submitted the lowest, most responsible proposal to provide the financing to acquire the equipment,” according to the agenda for the council meeting.


The police department is requesting a three-year, $477,080 lease with annual interest of 1.94 percent to purchase the 19 vehicles. The lease would be paid in three annual installments of $165,236.42. For the 45 video camera systems, the department is asking for a five-year, $301,359.93 lease at 2.18 percent annual interest. The lease would be paid in five annual installments of $64,270.43.


The video camera payments would begin on April 15, 2018. Each of the cars and the cameras would be expected to have “a useful life exceeding one year.” Interim Police Chief Ivan Whitfield has previously said several patrol cars needed to be replaced due to damage sustained during flooding last year, while others had exceeded the mileage considered safe to operate.


The council will not vote on whether to hold a special election for a new, seven-year, 5/8-cent sales tax proposed by Go Forward Pine Bluff. At the council’s last meeting, Alderman Bill Brumett asked for a delay in the vote until the council’s first meeting in April. Brumett said the delay would give voters more time to learn about the Go Forward plan. A majority of the council must vote in favor of holding a special election for residents to vote on the tax.


The council is also expected to vote on a proposal to cap raises for city employees who receive promotions. Currently, employees promoted to a new classification receive a raise of one percent of their salary for each year they have been employed with the city. Due to a citywide salary freeze the last few years, however, some promoted employees end up making more than co-workers with equal or greater tenure with the city, according to Alderman Glen Brown, Jr., who proposed the ordinance.


Now up for its third reading, the ordinance would change the city code to give employees promoted to a new classification “entry level pay for the new position or his or her current pay at the time of promotion, whichever is greater.” Aldermen Lloyd Holcomb and Thelma Walker also sponsored the ordinance.


The council will also consider a resolution proposed by Alderman Steven Mays to establish a six-month moratorium on the establishment of new bars and liquor stores. The moratorium would “allow the planning staff to study how the city compares to similar communities in Arkansas regarding the number of establishments selling alcohol,” according to the proposed ordinance.


Resolutions appointing Debra Allen to the Advertising & Promotion Commission and Wil Jenkins to the Historic District Commission also will be considered, and the council will hear a second reading of a proposal to add e-cigarettes to the city’s smoking ban on city properties.