The September meeting of the Monticello City Council opened at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, September 26. The roll was called and all council members were present except for Cedric Leonard. Alderman Craig McRae gave the invocation, which was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance. The council members then approved the minutes from the August council meeting. With no unfinished business, Mayor Jason Akers moved directly into new business.
The first agenda item was to discuss water and sewer line relocation on Main Street. Taylor White and Jason Temple from McClelland Engineering were on hand to give an update on the project. White said that he is the designer for this project and that he has been working very closely with Temple who has engineered several projects for the city recently. White said that this project has been in the works for several years. The project came to light when the Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) planned to do preservation on US. Highway 83/Main Street.
White said that there are some areas of concern with the project, from E. Jefferson St. to Jordan Drive. In this stretch of road, the water and sewer lines are buried under the asphalt in the streets. The lines and fittings in this area are also very old. McClelland plans to move all water and sewer lines out from under the street surface as part of this project. This will be beneficial because any future repairs would not cause the newly preserved road to be torn up.
White said that there are areas, especially close to the square, where the lines can’t be moved due to the physics associated with gravity-fed sewer lines, and the possibility of running into AT&T’s duct run which passes through the same area. In these areas, they plan to rehab what is already there through processes like “cure in place pipe”.
White added that they are currently working to finish the design phase and working to get permits through ARDOT and Union Pacific Railroad due to the project crossing railroad tracks near the square.
The project is estimated to be completed by late 2024, but no later than the first quarter of 2025.
The next item on the agenda was for the council to approve an application for a public safety grant through the Bureau of Justice
The council also voted to let Searcy and Associates do an audit of Solid Waste.
The council then voted to accept grant funds from the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM). These funds will be used to work on the Conley/Jackson Street drainage project, as well as continuing to work on Godfrey Ditch drainage issues. The council then approved A.L. Franks Engineering to work on the project. The company helped the city of Monticello find this grant. The council also voted to accept the work order from Franks. The council had one last item to address about this project. They voted to amend the one-cent sales tax budget to fund the project.
“I think we should let it be known, this is why you pass a one-cent sales tax,” said Mayor Akers.
The mayor then presented a resolution that would allow him to apply for a block grant through the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC). The grant would be for $499,000 and would be a zero-match grant, meaning the city would be out no money. The funds would go towards the Gibson and Bankston Lift Stations. The council voted to allow Akers to complete the application.
The council also had to pass a resolution that addressed the use of force by law enforcement officers. Monticello Police Department and the Drew Co. Sheriff’s Office both have policies in place, but this was a requirement for the AEDC Block Grant.
The council members were then presented with a proposed Speed Hump Ordinance. After a concerned citizen spoke at the August meeting and addressed speeders in the Cooper St. and Conley St. areas, as well as the recent death of a woman who was struck by a car while walking home, and concern was addressed after a young man died from injuries sustained after he lost control and struck a house in Vivian Manor, it was decided to address the issue of speed humps once again. City Attorney Whit Barton read the proposed ordinance, and Alderman Mike Wigley said that the ordinance needed to define what the distance between speed humps would be rather than just saying a reasonable distance. Akers said that he agreed and that while the goal is to deter speeders, we also have to space the humps out to where they don’t completely stall the flow of traffic.
“We do have to figure this out,” Akers said. “If I’m in an emergency situation I don’t want the ambulance or fire truck having to make a whole bunch of stops, I want them at my house as soon as possible, but I also understand the need to curtail some of the speeding in our neighborhoods.”
The council members agreed to table the ordinance until October, and that in the meantime they would try to get an answer as to how many feet apart is the right answer.
City Property Inspector, Brian Rodgers presented four properties to the council to have liens placed on them for services rendered by the city that had not been paid. Rodgers said that all property owners have been contacted and none of them have responded. The council members voted to place liens on 311 S. Hyatt, 554 E. Gabbert, 615 E. Bolling, and 455 S. Pine.
Rodgers also had four properties to be brought up as nuisance properties. The owner of 235 E. Jackson was granted a 90-day extension to make necessary repairs or demolition as he had just purchased the property and had not had time to deal with it.
403 N. Dillard was the next to be discussed. Rodgers said that this was a bad situation. The house had been completely gutted. There were no utilities to the house, and there was trash everywhere. This property is also a well-known drug den and a place where other illicit activities frequently happen. Monticello Police Chief Carlos Garcia said that MPD receives a lot of complaints about this property. The council voted to accept the resolution on this property.
In regards to 416 N. Speer, Rodgers said he experienced a first. He indicated that the tenants of the property contacted him on behalf of the property owner because the owner wanted to have the property declared a nuisance. The owner said that he would take care of getting the tenants out, he just it condemned. The council obliged and accepted the resolution.
The final property was 426 S. Pine, The Pines Mobile Home Park. Rodgers said that roughly 75 percent of the property had been cleaned up and repaired, but that there were still five trailers that were uninhabitable, along with a pile of trash at the back of the property. The council moved to table this resolution until Rodgers could provide photographs of the mobile homes in question. The way that the resolution was written, it appeared that the entire property needed to be condemned. Rodgers agreed to have the photographs at the October meeting.
The mayor heard a motion to adjourn, and the Monticello City Council was adjourned until the October meeting.