Held at the Pine Bluff Convention Center on Monday, June 15 with limited capacity, 14 resolutions and ordinances filled the agenda, with most of the time spent discussing GFPB involvement.

Go Forward Pine Bluff had several resolutions on the Pine Bluff City Council’s agenda that a few of the members opposed for various reasons.

Held at the Pine Bluff Convention Center on Monday, June 15 with limited capacity, 14 resolutions and ordinances filled the agenda, with most of the time spent discussing GFPB involvement.

An ordinance to create a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) aligned with GFPB plan of creating an incentive package that uses tax exemptions, loan packages and discounted rent to attract investors and new residents.

PACE is an ACT to create jobs, retain wealth and grow the local economy by enabling property assessed clean energy financing and authorize the establishment of energy improvement districts to fund loans.

Board members would consist of seven members, with one appointed by Mayor Shirley Washington.

The members must have expertise in at least one of the following fields:

• Municipal finance, commercial banking or commercial lending

• Real estate development and commercial construction

• Legal services

• Architecture and professional engineering

• The advanced energy industry, including energy efficiency or green building contracting and consultation

• Marketing, recruitment and community relations

Councilmember Ivan Whitfield said he supported the ordinance but wanted to know who asked for the members to have those required experiences, suggesting an everyday citizen would not possess all those skills.

According to the city attorney, Althea Scott, the criteria was set by the committee.

Council member Steven Mays thinks the ordinance is bad legislation.

Washington said she supported the alignment of GFPB and the partnership between the city of Pine Bluff and GFPB was strengthening the community.

Mays said the ordinance was not community friendly but Washington disagreed stating it was community friendly for individuals, industries and other companies as well.

The ordinance was approved with one no vote by Mays.

A resolution amending the First Responders Incentive Program proposal would allow police officers and firefighters to receive a home loan of up to $10,000 and loans of up to $5,000 for current home owners.

GFPB would initiate the program at no cost to the city but Mays felt the city should fix what was broken instead of outsourcing responsibilities.

Council member Win Trafford, sponsor, asked that the resolution move forward as is.

Whitfield questioned the eligibility stating first responders with bad credit wouldn’t qualify.

Standard credit regulations would apply, however, assistance would be available for non-automatic qualifiers through secondary market lenders and credit repair assistance.

Council member Bruce Lockett suggested replacing GFPB with the Economic and Community Development Department. He also asked if the resolution passed as is would it pass a legal challenge.

The resolution was approved with no votes from Mays, Lockett and Whitfield.

During the voting of the resolution implementing a First Responders Recruitment and Internship Program, Mays, Lockett and Whitfield voted no.

Mays said GFPB was given too much authority over the city council.

A resolution modifying the First Incentive Program proposal, sponsored by Lockett, was supported by Mays and Whitfield. Lockett proposed the Community and Economic Development Department head up the program.

Mays again felt like the city was giving up their authority to GFPB.

“We can’t outsource Pine Bluff,” said Mays.

Whitfield agreed stating it is the city’s responsibility.

The resolution failed 5-3.

The resolution to appoint members to the Board of Directors of the Pine Bluff Energy Improvement District was not supported by Mays.

Mays stated he read through the applications and addresses were missing.

The approved board members consisted of Ducan A. Bellingrath, Henry Dabner, Jessica H. Drake, Council member Donald Hatchett, Efreem Neely and Verna Perry.

Washington will present her appointee at the next city council meeting in July.

“You’re just giving them too much authority in the city,” said Mays. “I didn’t support number two so I don’t support this.”