For the second time in less than a year, the Pine Bluff City Council on Monday will consider an ordinance that would remove the Quality of Life Division from the police department when they meet at 5:30 p.m. Up for a first reading is a proposed ordinance sponsored by Alderman Steven Mays that would establish the division as an independent department under the administration of the mayor.
The proposed ordinance calls for the Quality of Life Division to maintain the same framework and number of people as it currently has and “to carry out the responsibilities as it performed as a division of the Police Department.”
In 2014, the Code Enforcement Department was removed from the Inspection and Zoning Department and renamed the Quality of Life Division, which was then placed under the Police Department. That arrangement lasted until December 2016, when the council voted 7-1 to remove both the Quality of Life and Animal Control Divisions from police control.
Former Alderman George Stepps, who was defeated in a bid for reelection after running as an independent in the 2016 general election, contended at that meeting that the move would put more police officers on the street, an argument former Mayor Debe Hollingsworth said was “flawed” because police officers were already on the streets accompanying code enforcement officers.
Hollingsworth vetoed the ordinance, but City Attorney Althea Hadden-Scott said the veto came too late to take effect. The change lasted until Feb. 21, when the council voted 5-3, with Mayor Shirley Washington casting the deciding vote, to move Quality of Life back to Police Department supervision.
In addition to Washington, Aldermen Bill Brumett, Win Trafford, Donald Hatchett and Glen Brown Jr., voted for the move while Mays, Alderman Bruce Lockett and Alderwoman Thelma Walker voted no. Trafford and Hatchett were new to the council, as was Lockett.
Trafford replaced Alderman Charles Boyd, who did not seek another term and Hatchett defeated Alderman Glen Brown Sr. Lockett replaced Stepps. Animal Control, which had also been detached by the 2016 vote remains a separate entity.
Also on Monday, the council will hear the first reading of a proposed ordinance that will amend a current ordinance dealing with parking requirements at restaurants, enclosing commercial dumpsters to provided a visual barrier from adorning properties, and establishing standards for commercial parking lots.
Those standards will include being properly marked and maintained to prevent areas of standing water, potholes and dust. Another proposed ordinance up for firs reading would rezone a small portion of West 16th Avenue and Blake Street from from Industrial to Business so that the owner of the property can establish a car lot.
Other items on the agenda include:An ordinance that will allow the city to refinance bonds that were issued to pay for improvements such as a new fire station, the Joe Thomas Public Safety building, street improvements the like which were a part of the 2011 Penny for Progress sales tax in order to receive a lower interest rate.Resolutions recognizing Vincent Miles, David Poe and Stacy Carpenter for exemplary work at Pine Bluff Wastewater Utility.