Hamburg City Council met last week and covered a myriad of topics including surveillance cameras, city water rates, and park funding.
Council member Derenda Stanley asked Chief Johnny Oliver if the police department was up to speed on the city park’s surveillance cameras, and Oliver said that they were, with the exception of the five cameras on Entergy poles.
Oliver said he would be contacting Entergy’s legal department again to speed the process up as much as possible.
Director of Public Works Jimmy Hargis told council that there had been a request for water by Crossroads Cemetery, as well as one by a farmer for water at the location of their combination tomato shed and farmer’s market they are constructing next to Morris trucking by the airport.
Hargis provided the council with a copy of Act 605 of 2021 titled “Oversight of Retail Water Providers.”
He told the council that a rate study would have to be performed soon, and that a committee would have to be formed under the parameters outlined in Act 605; which states that “the municipality must establish a non-voting advisory committee to advise the municipality in water system matters.”
He also said that council members would have to complete training, with the exception outlined in Act 605, which states, “A member with 10 years or more service on the governing board is exempt from training.”
The training can be taken via Zoom meeting or on the Internet, with two dates provided for each method.
Mayor David Streeter said the rate study is not to determine if the city is paying too much, rather it is intended to ensure the city is charging enough for its services that it could cover the cost of repairs to its system if they were required.
Hargis said that based on their population size, the city has until 2024 to perform the rate study, but that it is necessary to get it completed, because failure to do so may cause the city to receive a designation of “being under fiscal duress,” according to Act 605.
Hargis also reported to council that the work being performed on the water tanks is still in progress.
After the sandblasting and painting process was completed on the tank by city hall, some leaks in the rivets were discovered, and the company is returning to repair those leaks.
Hargis said the city plans on changing inlets on the tanks to some that are supposed to provide more aeration to the water.
Also during the meeting, Stanley asked the council for reallocation of funds in the Norman and Pine Street park budgets to be used for covering the costs of some projects the Economic Development Team has in the works for the square.
She said the EDT has been “trying to spend wisely while upgrading Hamburg,” adding that they have “received a lot of feedback on the beauty of the square.”
Council member Daniel Shelton said he wanted to be sure that the Pine Street Park would not need the funds immediately for their own decorations, and suggested speaking with that park board before taking action, and Streeter agreed.
City Clerk Peggy Akers looked back at expenditures and informed the council that the Pine Street Park did not use the funds for anything last year.
Streeter told the council that there is a square commission that will go through all the expenditures on Dec. 1 to clarify for everyone the money that has been spent, and what it was spent on.
There was a motion made to reallocate funds remaining after discussion with the Pine Street Park Board to the Economic Development’s decoration of the square; the motion was approved.
In other business:
• Streeter told the council that Fire Chief Tim Hollis informed him of an upcoming ISO audit planned for Dec. 6, and that the department hopes to secure an better rating to help lower insurance costs for residents.
• Streeter told the council he had purchased two vehicles for a total of $17,250 at an Arkansas Department of Transportation auction. The vehicles were a 2016 Dodge Truck as well as a 2014 Ford, which only has 49,000 miles on it.
• Streeter said the city is ready to start demolishing condemned properties when they receive the go-ahead; Keith said the council members did not need to take action at that time. Streeter indicated they would have the paperwork for the council regarding the demolitions in January.
• Streeter said that the city’s tennis courts were recently certified as not safe to play on, due to cracks. Streeter said Hamburg School District Finance Director John Spradlin is looking into solutions, but building new courts is still years down the road.
Streeter said one Texas company provided a quote of $80,000 to build up the ground and seal cracks on the court. He also said resurfacing costs half a million dollars, so that is not really an option.
Streeter said that if the city could have the cracks sealed and that lasts another seven to eight years, that would be great, but they need to take action now in order for it to be ready for next season.
• Streeter provided the council with an update on the unsold flooring they donated. The city received a letter of thanks from Kelly Fleming, who is the Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity of Central Arkansas.
“It is with deep gratitude I write to share with you the impact of your recent gift to Habitat for Humanity of Central Arkansas,” the letter began.
Fleming continued, “It was a generous, thoughtful decision by you to share this resource with us. Small towns are so wonderful…something like this would never happen in a larger city. YOU have put the humanity in Habitat Central Arkansas, and we are beyond grateful.”
The letter also indicates that some of the flooring will be sold in the organization’s ReStore, from which the profits go into building homes.
Fleming said the ReStore, which sells discounted used building material, had their “single best sales day ever” the Saturday after the donated flooring arrived.
The other portion of the flooring will be used in their home build and improvement projects in the Argenta area just north of the Arkansas River in North Little Rock.
Fleming said in closing, “May all the blessings of the season belong to each of you and your sweet town.”
The next city council meeting will be held on Dec. 19 at 5 p.m. at Hamburg City Hall.