With no debate, the Pine Bluff City Council on Tuesday approved a resolution which will allow Cornerstone Processing to have sales taxes they pay on construction and equipment refunded by the state.


The meeting was moved to Tuesday because of the President’s Day Holiday.


The company acquired the former Tyson Foods plant, which later was known as Horizon Foods/Summit Processing and according to a company official who met with the Economic Development Corp. of Jefferson County (tax board) in November, plans to invest $4.775 million in new equipment.


The resolution to refund the taxes, which will be sent to the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, was sponsored by Council Member Win Trafford at the request of the Economic Development Alliance for Jefferson County and Alliance President and CEO Allison J.H. Thompson and Vice-president for Economic Development Nancy Lee McNew attended the council meeting.


When asked, Thompson said plant management is on site and 150 jobs will be created by the company.


Also Tuesday, the council waived competitive bidding to allow Mayor Shirley Washington to negotiate a contract with Woods Group Architects of Little Rock for professional services related to building a pavilion in Townsend Park. The ordinance to waive the competitive bidding was up only for a first reading but council members voted to suspend the rules and read it a second, then third time before it was approved.


Before the vote, Larry Matthews, director of the city’s Economic and Community Development Department said the company has been involved in the project since its start. He also said the money the company planned to charge for their work was “in line with a typical project this size.”


According to an estimate of probable costs associated with the project, Woods Group Architects will charge $9,312.82 while the costs of the entire project were estimated at $133,483.76.


Money for the Jefferson County Coroner’s Office to help cover the cost of supplies was also approved as a budget adjustment with the money coming from undesignated funds in the general fund.


Trafford, who is chairman of the Council’s Public Safety Committee said Coroner Chad Kelley met with the committee to ask for the additional funding. Kelley also sent a letter to the Mayor and to Council Member Joni Alexander late last year where he said most of the cases his office works are in the city limits, including most of the homicides, natural deaths and suicides.


He also said in the letter that he spends $4,000 to $5,000 annually for the two types of body bags the office uses, as well as gloves and supplies needed for extracting body fluids for examination by the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory.


Asked by other members of the council, Traffolrd said the money for the Coroner’s Office was a one-time expenditure and would not be an annual expense.