Looking at a way to save money on phone bills, the Pine Bluff City Council on Monday will consider an ordinance to waive competitive bidding and authorize a local company to evaluate the city’s landline services when they meet at 5:30 p.m.
Sponsored by Alderman Bill Brumett, the ordinance, up for its first reading, would designate TLC Communications of Pine Bluff as the company to do the work. In return, the company would receive 20 percent of the annual savings on phone bills and 20 percent of any refunds generated by charges on bills that are not authorized.
According to a bill summary attached to the proposed ordinance, the city paid $97,668.57 in 2015, $108,041.60 in 2016 and $95,149.69 so far this year for AT& T services.
Also attached to the proposed ordinance was a letter from City Finance Director Steve Miller recommending Trisha Childress, the owner and consultant of TLC Communications, to perform the service.
Miller said in the letter that Childress and her associates installed a new phone system to replace the 20-year-old system in his office, which brought features such as voice mail, call conferencing and speaker phones. And while the initial projection was that the costs would be equal to the cost of the old system, Childress identified “a substantial number of redundant services and had those taken off our bill resulting in savings of $32,000 annually.”
“Ms. Childress worked tirelessly on our behalf making multiple calls over several months to representatives of our phone company to correct the billing,” Miller said in the letter.
“Her career experience with AT&T was key in identifying the redundant services and working through the complexity of their organization to finally get the bill reduced.”
Miller also said that after the new system was installed, Childress followed up with supplemental training for employees to make sure they knew how to utilize the new features that would increase their productivity. Also on Monday, the council will vote on a proposed ordinance to regulate parking regulations for restaurants, the placement of commercial trash collection units in regard to parking areas, and establish maintenance standards for commercial parking lots.
Among other things, the proposed ordinance, up for its third and final reading, would require that commercial dumpsters be enclosed to provide a visual barrier from adjoining properties, public streets and other public areas as well as to prevent the trash from blowing onto adjacent properties.
Regarding parking lots, the proposed ordinance requires that they be hard-surfaced and maintained to prevent areas of standing water, potholes and dust. They would also need to be marked with signs to provide clear identification of parking spaces. In addition, areas used to enter or leave commercial parking lots will have to be maintained and free of potholes to allow for a safe and efficient flow of traffic to and from the lots.
Alderman Steven Mays will try again Monday to introduce a proposed ordinance that, for the second time, would remove the Quality of Life Division from the Pine Bluff Police Department and establish it as a separate agency under the supervision of the mayor. Mays tried to introduce the proposed ordinance at the last meeting of the council but was rejected because it had not gone through committee.
In late 2016, the same ordinance sponsored by former Alderman George Stepps was adopted by the council but earlier this year, with four new members of the council, that ordinance was repealed with Mayor Shirley Washington casting the deciding vote.
Since the Police Department falls under the Public Safety Committee, the proposed ordinance should have been considered by that committee but was not discussed during the October meeting and that committee is not due to meet again until later this week.
A resolution sponsored by Washington to appoint Rosie Thomas Pettigrew to the Pine Bluff Advertising and Promotion Commission is also on the agenda. Pettigrew would replace Jimmy Dill, whose term has expired but who has continued to serve until a successor was named. If approved, her term would expire Oct. 31, 2021.