The initial meeting of the Pine Bluff City Council on Monday was short on business as there were only three items on the agenda, one of which was added at the last minute.
The short agenda, however, allowed the two newest members of the council to get their first taste of what they will deal with for the next four years. It also gave Mayor Shirley Washington a chance to welcome them, and to welcome back the six remaining members.
First Ward Council member Joni Alexander and Third Ward Council member Ivan Whitfield took their seats for the first time after a coin flip determined that Whitfield would be number seven in seniority and Alexander would be number eight.
Reading from a letter she wrote to all the council members, Washington said she was “honored to serve with you in this momentous time in our city. During this council term, our community is poised to continue its progress.”
“While at times we may disagree, I am confident that we can do so without being disagreeable while always striving to improve the city we love,” Washington said. “I look forward to working with you as we complete major projects like the Pine Bluff aquatic center and library, embark on efforts to improve the quality of life of every citizen. Together we will face many challenges but I believe with hard work and collaboration, there is no obstacle we can not overcome.”
In the letter, Washington also said she was committed to working with the council “in pursuit of our shared goals to build a city we are all proud to call home.”
Regarding the agenda, the council voted unanimously to approve a resolution supporting a settlement of a lawsuit filed against the city by Jerry Brasfield and approving the spending of $15,000 to be paid to Brasfield and his attorney.
An attorney for the Arkansas Municipal League who has been representing the city said the suit dates back to 2012 during the administration of former Mayor Carl Redus. If the council had chosen not to agree to the settlement, the case could have gone to trial. If a jury found in favor of Brasfield, he could receive a much larger amount than what the settlement would pay, and his attorney could also collect a substantial sum.
A resolution approving the extension of a service contract with AT&T for telephone services for one year was also approved. Under the terms of that agreement, the city would pay the same amount they are currently paying for service and the one-year agreement gives the city time to seek a new service provider.
Finally, a resolution appointing Council member Lloyd Holcomb Jr., to the Advertising and Promotion Commission was approved. Holcomb will replace former Council member Thelma Walker, who left the council Dec. 31 after being defeated in a bid for re-election. Holcomb will serve on the commission at the pleasure of the council.