Pine Bluff Mayor Shirley Washington has explained her decision to veto a resolution restoring the position of purchasing manager that she eliminated from the 2018 city budget. A day after the City Council adopted the ordinance by a 5-3 vote, Washington issued a veto that said, in part: “There are no measurable benefits to having a purchasing manager and there are already measures in place through city ordinances to monitor purchasing and competitive bidding.”
The City Council will meet at 5:30 p.m. Monday in council chambers.
The mayor was referring to Ordinance Section 2-156 through 2-165, which sets guidelines for making purchases of varying amounts, waving competitive bidding, selection of professional services, listing of fixed assets and other things. At the Nov. 20 meeting, Alderman Bruce Lockett, who was one of the sponsors of the resolution and who led the debate, said, “it is imperative for a city this size to have a purchasing manager.”
The 2017 city budget set a salary of $80,847 for the purchasing manager, plus benefits, for a total of more than $105,000. Expenses for the office were listed at $44,750.
In addition to Lockett, Alderwoman Thelma Walker and aldermen Steven Mays, Lloyd Holcomb Jr. and Donald Hatchett voted for the resolution, while aldermen Bill Brumett, Glen Brown Jr. and Win Trafford voted against it. It takes six votes to override the veto.
Also Monday, a proposed ordinance that would waive competitive bidding and award a contract to Wagner Construction Company to demolish the former America’s Best Inn at 2700 E. Harding Ave. and the former Admiral Benbow Inn at 2100 E. Harding Ave. will be read.
At a meeting of the council’s Development and Planning Committee Wednesday, Ryan Watley, the CEO of Go Forward Pine Bluff, said part of Go Forward Pine Bluff’s mission is to remedy blighted properties — both residential and commercial. The city was offered a “funding opportunity” to demolish commercial properties on main thoroughfares and was awarded $50,000 to accomplish the demolition.
At the meeting, Watley mentioned only America’s Best Inn, but the proposed ordinance also targets the former Admiral Benbow hotel for demolition. In addition, Watley said Go Forward Pine Bluff has been contacted by contractors who have offered to help with the demolition at a big discount.
The proposed ordinance says that the city has so far refrained from demolishing the structures because it would cost an estimated $100,000 to do so. The ordinance says Wagner Construction will do the job for $36,667.80.
The demolition must start on or before Dec. 17.
Other items on the Monday agenda include:
An ordinance waving competitive bidding and authorizing the mayor to sign a contract with TLC Communications for services in evaluating the city’s land line telephone system and expenses, up for the third and final reading.An ordinance giving local businesses preference in doing business with the city, up for a second reading.A resolution adopting the 2018 municipal budget.A resolution appointing Sandra Fisher to the Arts and Science Center for Southeast Arkansas Board of Trustees.A resolution appointing Dr. Angie Andrae to the Arts and Science Center for Southeast Arkansas Board of Trustees.