Proposed legislation that outlined the areas of responsibility for each of the eight standing committees of the Pine Bluff City Council drew fire from some members Monday night, due to the exclusion of one entity on one committee.
Council member Donald Hatchett, who is the chairman of the Public Health and Welfare Committee objected to the removal of the Code Enforcement Department from his committee and its assignment to the Development and Planning Committee.
Hatchett said his committee had had oversight of Code Enforcement during the previous two years, including during the 2019 budget process and felt that because the duties of Code Enforcement included lot clearing, grass cutting and litter control, areas that fell under his committees area of responsibilities.
Council Member Joni Alexander, who sponsored the legislation, said that Code Enforcement has also been reporting to the Development and Planning Committee which she chairs since she assumed the chairmanship of the committee in January. That reporting included providing information about structures that needed to be abated and placed on the condemnation list.
She also pointed out that when members of the council picked their committee assignments in January, Development and Planning was the only committee that did not have a chairman so the job fell to her.
“It’s my resolution and I am not pulling it,” Alexander said.
Council member Bruce Lockett sought to introduce an amended resolution that would have allowed Code Enforcement to remain in Development and Planning for the purposes of abatement of nuisances but also be placed in Health and Welfare for areas such as grass cutting, trash removal and the like.
“That would be the only department to be split,” Alexander said. “You do this and it would allow each committee to pick and choose what they want.”
Mayor Shirley Washingt0n said she had looked at other cities and the Code Enforcement responsibilities there were placed under their planning and development committees.
Hatchett seconded the motion by Lockett but in a roll call vote, it failed by a vote of 6-2.
The original resolution, with an amendment to include the Urban Renewal Agency in the areas of responsibility for Development and Planning was approved by a vote of 5-3 with Council member Steven Mays joining Hatchett and Lockett in casting no votes.