The Pine Bluff City Council on Monday will consider restoring the Animal Control Department to Police Department supervision. The council meets at 5:30 p.m. at Pine Bluff City Hall.
The Animal Control Department was previously supervised by the Police Department, but the City Council voted in December to detach animal control to make it an independent city department. The department was then placed back under temporary supervision of the Police Department when the interim Animal Control Department director became embroiled in a Drug Enforcement Agency investigation into whether he took drugs from the animal shelter.
A budget request from the Animal Control Department to pay for increased water usage drew scrutiny at a recent City Council meeting from Alderman Bruce Lockett, who suggested it may not be legal for police to oversee the department unless the city’s municipal code is changed. The ordinance is sponsored by aldermen Bill Brumett and Win Trafford.
An ordinance that would establish a city-wide registry of vacant buildings is up for a third and final reading. The ordinance, proposed by Lockett, would require the owners of buildings that have stayed vacant for three consecutive months or longer to pay a registration fee of $100, along with an additional annual $100 fee for each year it remains vacant.
The City Council’s Development and Planning Committee in May recommended against passing the ordinance. The committee, comprised of Aldermen Glen Brown Jr., Brumett and Alderwoman Thelma Walker, said it seemed harsh. Lockett argued that property owners needed to be held accountable for allowing buildings to deteriorate into blight.
Lockett has also proposed a resolution to create a city-wide task force devoted to addressing blight in Pine Bluff. According to the resolution, the task force would make recommendations to improve “enforcement measures, programs, serves and best practices to reduce blight and engage residential and commercial revitalization in distressed areas in Pine Bluff.”
The task force would consist of representatives from the Police / Quality of Life Department, Southeast Regional Planning Commission, Economic and Community Development Department and Fire and Emergency Services Department. Interested council members would also be allowed to take part, as would citizens from each ward appointed by the mayor.
The council will also consider a resolution to adopt the Jefferson County Hazard Mitigation Plan update. The county is required to produce an updated hazard mitigation plan every five years in order to receive funding from the Federal Emergency Manage Agency. The Jefferson County Quorum Court approved an updated plan Monday last week. A hazard mitigation plan lays out how authorities will respond to natural hazards. For example, the City of Pine Bluff is vulnerable to “severe winter weather and extreme wind events,” the council agenda states.
The council will consider a resolution to authorize Mayor Shirley Washington to apply for grant funds from the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism’s Outdoor Recreation grant program.
The council will also consider a resolution to make Monday, July 3, 2017, a holiday for municipal government, and to reschedule the regular meeting of the City Council to July 5.
Another ordinance up for a first reading would close a portion of an east-west valley located west of the 2300 block of Magnolia Street.
The council will also consider resolutions to appoint Ethel Cogshell to the Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Library System Board of Trustees and William D. Moss to the Pine Bluff Advertising and Promotion Commission.