After failing in his initial attempt to restore the position of purchasing manager for the City of Pine Bluff in November, Alderman Bruce Lockett is making a second attempt to put the position back in the city's 2018 budget.
On Monday at 5:30 p.m., the Pine Bluff City Council will hear the first reading of a proposed ordinance sponsored by Lockett to create a purchasing department with a director appointed by the Mayor.
In November, a resolution putting the position back in the budget, which Mayor Shirley Washington had eliminated passed 5-3 but Washington vetoed the ordinance later that week, saying that current city ordinances provided a mechanism for departments making purchases. In addition to the purchasing manager, Washington also eliminated the position of marketing and communications director.
During the November meeting, Lockett said “It is imperative for a city this size to have a purchasing manager,” Lockett said.
In addition to Lockett, Alderwoman Thelma Walker and Aldermen Steven Mays, Lloyd Holcomb Jr., and Donald Hatchett voted for the resolution with Aldermen Bill Brumett, Glen Brown Jr., and Win Trafford opposing it.
At that same meeting, Lockett called for an executive session to discuss the Mayor's elimination of the position but City Attorney Althea Hadden-Scott said such a session would be improper since under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act. executive sessions can only be called to deal with hiring, firing, demotion or reassignment of a department head. In this case, the council members were talking about a position and not a department head.
Hadden-Scott said it was a reduction in force but Lockett disagreed, saying he would not vote to approve the 2018 budget without the addition of a purchasing director or manager.
He made good on his promise at the next meeting of the council, casting the only no vote to adopt the 2018 budget.
Also on Monday, the council will hear the first reading of a proposed ordinance that would rezone approximately 10 acres at the southwest corner of Bobo Road and Hampton Parkway from R-1 to R-3 to allow Black Thunder Investments to construct duplexes.
At a meeting of the Development and Planning Committee of the council on Tuesday, Brown Jr., agreed to sponsor the proposed ordinance to allow it to be placed on the council agenda without a recommendation.
Brumett and Walker both said they had received calls from people in the area opposing the rezoning because of fears of increasing traffic and the lowering of their property values.
“I hate to turn away anybody who is trying to develop part of the city,” Brown Jr. said. “We only get so many opportunities and I hate to hold up progress.”
“I'm not trying to impede business but my constituents have concerns,” Walker said.
“I'm in the same boat,” Brumett said.
A proposed ordinance that would give local vendors a preference when submitting bids to sell goods or services to the city is up for a third reading Monday.
To qualify for the preference, vendors would be required to maintain at least one place of business in the city for not less than two years before submitting a bid, paid taxes on either real or personal property and have a valid business license.
When bids are submitted, local businesses would receive a five-percent reduction in the amount of their bid.
Other items on the agenda include:An ordinance implementing a marriage provision for certain members of the Pine Bluff Police Department local pension fund. A resolution recognizing the opioid epidemic and engaging in legal action against those entities and people responsible as a member of the Arkansas Municipal League Legal Defense Program. A resolution repealing an existing ordinance that calls for political parties to hold partisan primary elections to the city's elective offices and restore nonpartisan elections. A resolution authorizing the Mayor to accept a grant from the Arkansas Historical Preservation Program for $8,500 for staff training, structural assessments, mini-grant programs and repairs to the Saenger Theater.