The Pine Bluff City Council on Monday pulled a proposed ordinance dealing with criminal background checks for prospective city employees. It had been scheduled for the first reading.
During a meeting of the Ordinances and Resolutions Committee prior to the full council meeting, City Attorney Althea Hadden-Scott recommended that the proposed ordinance be pulled back until changes could be made to it.
It was modeled on an ordinance from Pulaski County and said its purpose was to “assist in the successful reintegration into the workforce of people with criminal records by removing barriers to employment and enhance the health and safety of the community by assisting people with criminal records to lawfully provide for themselves and their families.”
Among other things, initial application forms for city jobs will not include an applicant's criminal history, and the proposed ordinance says “a criminal conviction will not automatically disqualify an applicant from employment, unless explicitly mandated by law.”
Also pulled Monday was a proposed ordinance to waive competitive bidding and approve the purchase of a vehicle from Trotter Ford-Lincoln for the Code Enforcement Department.
According to the proposed ordinance, the vehicle, a 2019 Chevrolet Silverado, was bought after code enforcement asked for three written price quotes. It was purchased without competitive bidding, not pursuant to the state contract.
The actions were described as being due to “mistake and misunderstanding.”
Code Enforcement has already put the truck into service, and the proposed ordinance said it would be unfair to the vendor (Trotter Ford-Lincoln) to pull back the sale as there was no question that the dealer acted in good faith.
An ordinance establishing a fee for a second or subsequent inspection by the Code Enforcement or Inspection Departments was approved 7-1, with Council member Steven Mays casting the only no vote.
Mitzi Ruth, who works for Inspection and Zoning, said when a permit required by one of the city’s technical codes is issued, the person receiving the permit is given a checklist of things that have to be done. If all those things are done, there would be no additional charge.
The problem, she said, is when inspectors are called to do an inspection and the required work has not been completed, or when the person who requested the permit is not at the site.
“It’s becoming a real problem,” she said.
“When a contractor says I have completed these things, come and inspect them, and (if) they haven’t, they get charged,” said Council Member Win Trafford.
Mays said the city is trying to attract development, and the ordinance is not “business friendly.”
Council Member Ivan Whitfield asked whether contractors and others obtaining permits would receive copies of the ordinance and be aware of the fees. Ruth said the information would be posted in the Inspection Department office.