Hope City Board

The Hope City Board met Tuesday September 10th. The meeting opened with a public hearing on a request by Willie Walker to close an undeveloped segment of Greenwood Street. There was no opposition and an ordinance was passed to close the undeveloped street.

The board heard a presentation on the city of Hope 2018 audit. Chad Miller of Miller, Smith,& Company CPA’s, PLLC presented the audit. Miller said the city’s overall net was up over $936,000. This was primarily due to grants. The ending balance was approximately $4.2 million. Of this, about$2.2 million consists of unrestricted funds and $2 million in restricted or earmarked funds. The city’s overall debt fell $774,000. Miller noted pension liability is down. He also noted the audit report was larger but the city wasn’t charged extra. Miller noted there was the usual finding of “lack of segregation of duties”. This finding comes every year and is due to the city’s limited staff at City Hall. Mayor Montgomery asked about what would be needed to satisfy this finding. A representative of the Miller, Smith firm said it would not be cost effective to hire someone to solve this finding and it was noted the finding has no ramifications. Mayor Montgomery asked Miller if the city was good and Miller replied it is.

Finance Director Debbie Hall presented a report on the purchase of a new residential garbage truck. The truck was budgeted and the low bid was from Arkansas Municipal Equipment from Poyen. The truck is a 2019 Freightliner with a twenty yard New Way Cobra Rear Loader. It will cost $139,250 and will be financed by Farmers Bank and Trust. The board approved the purchase.

The board looked at an engineering contract on the city’s Class IV landfill. The city still has class IV capacity but it does take time to get a new cell permitted and constructed. The board was asked to approve an engineering contract with Crist Engineers. The board did enter the agreement.

Under citizens requests Randall Ross spoke to the board about chicken houses. He noted they are building four chicken houses next door to his house on 16th. He said these houses are the equivalent of five blocks away from Fair Park. Despite assurances that the new chicken houses don’t have a bad odor Ross said the houses have exhaust fans that would probably send out smells. He also said such houses have a composting facility in which dead chickens are covered with chicken manure. Ross noted Fair Park is in the path of such potential odors. Ross said these potential odors could negatively impact tourists who use Fair Park. He said imagine sitting at the the Watermelon Festival concert in 100 degree weather and smelling chicken houses and chicken manure. Ross said the poultry house owners have completed their paperwork and have their permits so the only thing anyone can do is call someone. Ross asked that people concerned about these chicken houses call Tyson Complex Manager Randy King, state representative Danny Watson, Senator Larry Teague, and the owners of the proposed houses.

Hazel Simpson spoke to the board about the signage at North Side Park Catherine Cook said that she can get some new signs. Also she asked signs be returned that say “No ATV’s, no horses, no dogs”.

The board went into executive session at 7:55pm. The board reconvened at 9:08pm. The Mayor said the board went into executive session to discuss the City Manager’s performance review. Dr. Trevor Coffee made a motion to extend Catherine Cook’s contract for another year. The extension was approved with Mark Ross voting against the extension.

Under the City Manager’s report Catherine Cook noted the rail project was discussed. It is to be finished by the 23rd. Cook gave an update on street program. Vice-Mayor Don Still discussed bike lanes and the meeting adjourned.