The Pine Bluff City Council met in their new normal, via Zoom, on Monday at 5:30 p.m., approving three ordinances and one resolution. Prior to the city council meeting, the Ways and Means Committee meeting was called to order to discuss budget adjustments.

The Pine Bluff City Council met in their new normal, via Zoom, on Monday at 5:30 p.m., approving three ordinances and one resolution.
Prior to the city council meeting, the Ways and Means Committee meeting was called to order to discuss budget adjustments.
The first one included a $1 million adjustment request in the 2017 sales tax fund to create a loan reserve to level debt service expense for the Aquatics Center loan over four years.
“What we’re doing is spacing that payment out over four years instead of three years and therefore it won’t be such a load on the budget,” said Ryan Watley, CEO of Go Forward Pine Bluff.
According to Watley, current Go Forward projects are depending on carryover funds or have been in the work for quite some time.
“The money is kind of in a reserve, however any projects that we are depending on for 2020 revenue, we don’t know how that’s going to turn out,” said Watley.
Watley said the money they had the intent on paying early on is reserved just in case they have a shortfall.
Finance Director for the city of Pine Bluff, Steven Miller, says they are setting aside a reserve.
“We’re not going to prepay the loan. That can be considered later,” said Miller. “With all this going on with COVID-19 and the uncertainty, we want to hang on to the cash in the bank and we’ll just have that set aside in a reserve to fund that final year’s debt service payment that’s so large.”
The second budget adjustment was for a 50% payment to Harold Hall Roofing for Fire Station Building #2 Airport.
The last budget adjustment was a budget payment of 720 hours of sick leave for retiring police sergeant and 712 hours unused sick leave for retiring deputy chief.
As the meeting transitioned into the City Council meeting, all three budget adjustments were approved by the council.
An ordinance amending the code of ordinance of the city of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, amending and restating chapter 13, section 13-47 of the Pine Bluff Code of Ordinances concerning gross receipts tax collection and enforcement and for other purposes was approved.
An ordinance amending Division II of Article V of Chapter 2 of the Code of Ordinances of the city of Pine Bluff, Arkansas respecting documentation for purchases and for related purposes was also approved.
All purchases for the city supplies, equipment, materials, commodities and service requisite for public purposes in excess of $1,000 but not more than $5,000, may be made by the mayor or the department head after securing at least three telephone quotations, which must be accompanied with an invoice and any other documents used to writes a check to the vendor.
All purchases for city supplies, apparatus, equipment, materials, commodities and services requisite for public purposes in excess of $5,000 but not more than $20,000, may be made by the mayor or department head after securing at least three written quotations accompanied with an invoice and any other documentation used to write a check to the vender.
Any amount greater than $20,000, the mayor, city clerk and department head shall invite competitive bids.
An ordinance extending the exclusive franchise agreement with Emergency Ambulance Service, Inc. (EASI) was approved.
The city of Pine Bluff had entered into a five-year agreement with the ambulance service in 2012. EASI’s second term is set to expire on September 20, 2023.
EASI saves the city of Pine Bluff up to $50,000 annually, by assuming the cost for the city’s medical director and replacing medical equipment used by the Pine Bluff Fire Department and first responders.
A resolution authorizing city employees to participate in the shared work unemployment compensation program was approved by the council.
The resolution states it is projected that the city of Pine Bluff will experience a significant economic shortfall as a result of the decreased sales tax revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to make up for a portion of the shortfall, the city needs to reduce its workforce and reduce the salary paid to its employees.
The Shared Work Unemployment Compensation Plan provides an alternative for the City of Pine Bluff faced with reduction in force. It allows the City to divide available work, or hours of work, among a specific group of employees to receive a portion of their unemployment benefits while working reduced hours.
Employees participating in the program will also be eligible for the weekly federal supplemental benefit associated with COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the resolution the city of Pine Bluff could potentially save $750,000 a year while maintaining its workforce.
The work hours for eligible employees will be reduced by twenty percent per pay period with unemployment compensation making up the difference.