Three resolutions dealing with blight removal that the Pine Bluff City Council was to consider Monday were pulled just before the meeting, but all three will be back later.
One of the three resolutions would have transferred $50,000 worth of equipment that the Urban Renewal Agency is currently using to raze condemned properties to the city’s Code Enforcement Department, as well as create positions in Code Enforcement for the two operators.
The equipment to be transferred was to include an excavator, roll-off dumpsters, roll-off truck and compact track loader, as well as related tools.
During a meeting prior to the start of the regular council session, Mayor Shirley Washington said that instead of just one resolution dealing with two subjects, two resolutions will be created, one for the equipment transfer and a second for the two jobs that will be created and for which the city’s Human Resources Department will have to write job descriptions for.
The same will hold true for a second resolution that was to have created the position of nuisance abatement supervisor and administrator in the Code Enforcement Department.
A job description for that position will also have to be created.
According to the resolution that was pulled, the person who fills the position would serve as the special assistant to the director of code enforcement for nuisance abatement and would be responsible for, among other things, the administrative work associated with condemnation of properties and the razing of those specific properties, along with filing appropriate liens as set out by Arkansas Law and city ordinance.
Both resolutions will be discussed during a meeting of the City Council’s Development and Planning Committee at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday.
A third resolution, which would recognize employees of the Urban Renewal Agency as regular employees of the city and make them eligible to participate in the non-uniformed employee’s pension plan, was also pulled and will be sent to the City Council’s Administration Committee.
The issue arose after a May opinion by City Attorney Althea Hadden-Scott said that the Urban Renewal Agency could not tear down structures without “legally acquiring them through purchase, contract, eminent domain, donation by school district, donation by City of city property, etc."
She said that while state law grants cities the authority to raze and remove structures, place liens against real property and collect those liens from the county tax collector, the Urban Renewal Agency is an autonomous body created by the city, with its own independent governing board, and therefore cannot act in the same capacity.
Her opinion also said the Code Enforcement Department, which is governed by the city, is legally allowed to perform those functions on behalf of the city.
Urban Renewal operates in three areas of the city known as urban renewal zones. Maurice Taggart, director of the agency, said that if he is no longer allowed to demolish structures, he will concentrate his efforts on helping to rebuild the city’s core, which is also part of the agency’s mission.
In other business Monday, the council waived competitive bidding and authorized Washington and Police Chief Kelvin Sergeant to buy two new Dodge Chargers from Smart Dodge of Pine Bluff instead of purchasing them from the state contract dealer which is a Little Rock dealer.
The resolution says that Smart Dodge will sell the cars for the same price as the contract dealer and competitive bidding would be inefficient and impractical.
Also approved was a resolution authorizing the Economic and Community Development Department to sell a vacant lot at 3119 W. 13th Ave. and properties that the department obtained through foreclosure and which have or will be rehabilitated and sold as per federal HUD regulations.
Regarding the property on West 13th, Larry Matthews, the director of Economic and Community Development, said an investor has shown an interest in locating a housing development there and is working up plans.
A resolution waiving city fees and charges associated with the construction of a house at 2804 W. 9th Ave., which is being built by Habitat for Humanity, was also approved by a vote of 7-0. Council member Joni Alexander, who is a member of the Habitat Board, abstained.
The council also accepted a total of $160,000 in grant funds that will go to the Pine Bluff Aquatics Center. Of that, $60,000 came from Waste Management, which pledged a total of $100,000 over a five-year period. The money will be used to pay for the timing system and bleachers at the center.
The remaining $100,000 was received from the Trinity Foundation and will approximate the amount of increased costs for the center due to soil conditions and the requirement to backfill with crushed stone.