Ash Flat City Council holds regular meeting

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

The Ash Flat City Council held their regular meeting Dec. 10.

Fire Chief Stacey Horton was first to give his report.

“For the holidays we, just prepared for the parade and Christmas events. We had 31 calls since our last meeting; 19 medical, two vehicle accidents, two grass fires, six public assists and two false alarms,” Horton said.

Police Chief Steve Powell said his department had responded to 111 calls for service during the month of November.

“We conducted 225 traffic stops, served five warrants, issued 45 citations, 270 warnings responded to 11 motor vehicle accidents, seven thefts, eight arrests, unlocked 18 vehicles and had five alarm calls,” Powell said.

Following the parks, streets and water report, Bill Myers gave the code enforcement report.

“I inspected the plumbing in the new jail and the slab they poured, it looks very good. It’s one of the best poured I’ve seen in a long time. We inspected a house on Peace Valley....There is a Cajun restaurant coming sometime this summer in the old Cimmeron,” Myers said.

The issue of potential flooding with the construction of the new jail was also discussed.

Myers’ comment was brief as he stated a meeting had been held with the county.

Susan Funnell, library manager for the Ash Flat Library was next to deliver her report.

“Our November story time was a success, we had seven kids. The volunteers are continuing to work and inserting the AR points into the books. The book club is still going strong and we have 10 women who meet every month to discuss the book they’ve read. The latter part of November we’ve been decorating the library inside and out. I’d like to thank Lori Carpenter for donating our tree,” Funnell said.

Mayor Larry Fowler then moved the meeting forward to unfinished business starting with the 2020 budget.

“We did come up with a balanced budget,” Fowler said, adding over $70,000 was unappropriated funds.

The council then moved into a discussion of the budget. After the discussion, the council voted to approve the budget.

The next item discussed was a proposed ordinance establishing procedure for citizen participation.

“This has been in your packet for the last couple months. The [municipal] league wants to know, this section 3, if you want it in or out. ‘After all agenda items have been concluded, citizens will have the opportunity to address the council concerning matters not otherwise on the agenda. Each citizen who wishes to speak will be allotted’ and I want to know how many minutes per person. This says two, do you want it two or three or left in there?,” Goodwin asked.

The council opted to leave the ordinance in it’s traditional format of two minutes for comments following the competition of the agenda and will vote on the ordinance during the January meeting.

New business items were next to be discussed.

Fowler presented the council with an ordinance provided to them by the state and municipal league regarding the one half cent sales tax on fuel set to sunset in 2023.

The issue will be on the ballot for voters under Issue 1 in November of 2020.

Fowler said the loss of the current tax would cut approximately $25,000 from the city’s street budget.

The council voted to pass resolution 12-A-2019.

A notice regarding the freight-liner truck belonging to the city was the next item.

“We received a letter from the federal government releasing the freight-liner we purchased from the federal surplus to build our pumper tanker out of that did not work out for us. The truck has been sitting down there for too long. I’d like ya’ll to make the decision to build it into something for use for the city or we need to sell it,” Fowler said.

Councilman Fred Goodwin said there wasn’t much use for the truck and Fowler said it would cost over $15,000 to transform it into a dump truck.

“It would have made a great tanker but I don’t know what else we could turn it into,” Fowler said.

The council then discussed other surplus equipment which the city could sell as well.

Due to the volume of equipment to be disposed of by the city, the decision of whether to have a public auction or take sealed bids was discussed.

The items will be published in the coming weeks and sealed bids will be taken.

Although it was not an agenda item, Fowler spoke about changes in how the city would be allowed to display Christmas decorations on light poles belonging to Entergy.

“I spoke to the head man at Walnut Ridge and he took David Burnett’s place. What they told us about the Christmas lights, they said the City of Ash Flat would have to sign a contract, take out a liability insurance policy with them named as the insurer and they would have to spec out the lights we were allowed to hang on their poles. He sent the contract to Larry [Kissee city attorney],” Fowler said. “We haven’t got any further than that but what happened was someone was hanging lights in the state and got hurt and Entergy got sued. Their policy has changed.”

Once the contract has been reviewed, Fowler said he would advise the council as to what the city’s attorney stated.

“We’re not going to do Christmas lights this year as you can probably already tell,” Fowler said. “The guys were doing a heck of a job refurbishing the lights. They were going to look great. I don’t understand why this contract and insurance policy has come up for the City of Ash Flat but it has.”

Fowler said as part of the contract, Entergy would be responsible for hanging the lights.

“The insurance policy is my concern. They have to be listed as the insurer but we pay for it and they’re insured...,” Fowler said. “We’re still doing research on it.”

The council discussed ways to encourage businesses to decorate and other ways to lighten the city during the Christmas holiday season until a resolution could be met with Entergy.

The council then voted to allow up to $1,000 to purchase lighting and decorations during the after season sales to be used at a later time.

The Ash Flat City Council meets the second Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m.

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