An ordinance dealing with the recycling of used tires was pulled by aldermen at Monday night’s Pine Bluff City Council meeting. Also pulled was a proposed ordinance dealing with the schedule of licensing and occupation taxes assessed by the city.
That particular ordinance was scheduled for a second reading, but during the council’s pre-meeting, City Collector Sharon Johnson asked the council to read it for a third time because tax bills need to go out June 1 for occupation taxes due July 1.
Among other things, the proposed ordinance would eliminate the exemption that currently applies to owners of three or fewer rental properties, apartments, houses, businesses and rental properties and set a fee for owners who repair properties other than their own homes.
The tire ordinance had been up for a third and final reading but was pulled and sent back to committee.
Although four of the eight members of the council signed on as sponsors for the proposed ordinance, previous discussions about it included checking with other cities to see how they deal with the issue, and that had not been done.
The city was particularly concerned about the number of tires that have been dumped on vacant lots and in ditches over the past few months; the proposed ordinance would have required new and used tire dealers to maintain a dumpster to hold the tires, and to mark them with an identifying symbol that could be easily recognized.
During public comments prior to the meeting, Dale Stanton, who formerly owned Hazel Street Exxon, said the requirement for a dumpster “would be a burden to guys trying to make a living.” He said the cost of a dumpster would be $135 per month, and in the case of the station he formerly owned, there would be little space available.
As for marking the tires, he said: “You go through the poor drainage system in Pine Bluff” and the marks would be washed away.
He added that “The best way to stop it (the illegal dumping) is to try and get somebody dumping. It shouldn’t be on the merchant.”
Kevin Wilson, who owns Big “K” tires on Dollarway Road, said he was “not totally against the ordinance.”
He said he is licensed to haul tires to the Jefferson County Recycling Center and does so for all the major auto dealers in Pine Bluff, as well as a dealer in Sheridan.
“I have a haulers license,” Wilson said. “I have to document everything. The recycling center won't’ take the tires without a license. That’s the problem the other tire shops have. They don’t have a license.”
He said if he had a dumpster outside his business, he could empty it and take all the contents to the recycling center. But, he said, the next day “it would be full again with other people dumping their tires in it.”
“Tires are everywhere,” Wilson said. “They’re in the woods, and it’s got to stop. We need to come up with a solution.”
“All the fees are going to be passed on to the tenants,” Council member Win Trafford said.
In other business, by a 5-3 vote, a proposed resolution to close a portion of Taft Street between West Short 3rd Avenue to West 6th Avenue was approved. The closing is designed to reduce littering in the area and would be in effect for 90 days.
Council member Donald Hatchett led the opposition, saying that every time the Street Department closes a street, it costs the city $1,500.
“I think we need to take a second look at surveillance equipment,” Hatchett said. The city has purchased surveillance cameras for the code enforcement department and some of the department’s officers have been trained in their operation but to date the cameras have not been used.”
Council member Steven Mays, who sponsored the resolution, said the city needs to “do whatever it can to clean up (the area). He said the cameras, along with closing the street, would serve as “collective effort” to reduce illegal dumping.
Hatchett said it would be impossible to block every street in the city where illegal dumping has been done and said the area Mays wants closed “has been offered surveillance cameras.”
“We have to start somewhere,” Mays said, mentioning the area of Birch and Roane streets on the north side of the city near Townsend Park. “As soon as it’s cleaned up, it’s (illegal dumped material) right back the next day.”
Other action taken by the council Monday included:
• An ordinance regarding the use of competitive bidding in the razing and removal of nuisance structures was read for the second time.
• An ordinance waiving competitive bidding and authorizing the mayor to execute a contract with McClelland Consulting Engineers for engineering services related to the “safe routes to school project” was read three times and approved.
• A resolution authorizing the Pine Bluff Police Department to use the out-of-service fire station at 30th Avenue and Ash Street as a substation for the Violent Crime Unit was approved.
• A resolution expressing the appreciation of the city of Pine Bluff to Ken Johnson and the Black Pilots of America for their annual Memorial Day Operation Sky Hook event at Grider Field was approved.
• A resolution authorizing the mayor to contact with Redstone Construction Group for construction services related to the Safe Routes to School project. Violent Crime was approved.