The Mansfield City Council met on Thursday evening, November 21 at 7 p.m. All members of the council were present, including Julie Thomas, Dave Johnson, Jan Carlton, Beverly Lyons, Rick McDaniel and Sheri Hopkins. Also present, Mayor Buddy Black and Recorder/Treasurer Becky Walker.
After the meeting was called to order, and the October minutes were approved, the council heard the city services reports.
Public Works Director Joe Maness reported that the department had completed two water taps in the rural area, changed the lights and GFI receptacles on the light poles, repaired two water leaks and evaluated a water problem at the Spur Lake spillway.
Additionally, on November 12, both of the city’s trash trucks were operating with the assistance of the city recorder/treasurer. Maness also reported that they had gained and lost a new part-time employee.
During the County Wide Cleanup, held October 19, public works employees helped unload fifty eight trucks and twenty-one trailers on the Sebastian County side and 21 trucks and six trailers from Scott County.
Next, Police Chief Wayne Robb reported that during the month of October, his department issued 22 citations and executed five misdemeanor warrants within Sebastian County. In Scott County, four citations were issued, and one felony and two misdemeanor warrants were executed.
The department answered a total of 66 calls, assisted 34 outside agencies, and had 24 school calls. Officers had a total of 25 incident/arrest reports, one accident report, 83 traffic stops, issued 57 warnings and had 15 animal calls. In total, the department underwent 19 hours of training for the month.
Additionally, Robb shared with members of the council updates on reports of criminal mischief and vehicle break-ins. “We have leads on who they are and where they are coming from,” Robb stated. He went on to share that the events are sporadic throughout the city, and he has launched extensive residential patrols in response.
Fire Chief Michael Smith reported that his department has had a total of 16 calls, four fire and 12 EMS. “We closed out our year this month with total calls at 321, most of the calls were EMS, 277, and fire, 44.”
Smith delivered the Freightliner to Conway for repairs. The total cost is $8,000 with parts and labor. He reminded the council that both trucks, the 1992 GMC and 1999 Freightliner have original tires, and that those need to be replaced. Also, Smith stated that the department doesn’t have enough turnout gear for the volunteer members, and he will be looking into grants to help fund the purchase. Additionally, that he is still searching for a grant to assist with the purchase of a newer brush truck.
Lastly, Smith reported on the new security system that is in place. The new system eliminated keys, and implemented fobs, which records who accesses the building, the time and location.
City Attorney Matt Ketcham was present, but did not have a report for the council.
Next, Captain Philip Pevehouse with the Sebastian County Sheriff’s Office was present to share information about the proposed funding for two county dispatchers. Pevehouse fielded questions from the council members and mayor on the request by Sebastian County Judge David Hudson and Sheriff Hobe Runion for cities to aid in funding the hiring of two county dispatchers. –See related story
According to Pevehouse, Mansfield is fourth highest in call volume, just under calls for the county, Barling and Greenwood. The cost for the county to continue providing the services the city has been historically dependent on is $2,257.00 annually. Pevehouse added that “When the City of Fort Smith wants to raise the sewer rates, they don’t ask me, they just send a bill.”
Alderman Carlton admitted that she didn’t view the request as a tax, but rather a bill. Other members of the council, including Thomas, resisted the notion stating, “it feels we are being strong-armed.” Lyons commented that they have a job to do when they budget and fund their city, and the Sebastian County Quorum Court bears that same responsibility for the county, and should find a way to fund this need.
Ultimately, the council chose to table the measure. However, after March 1, 2020 any city who has not paid their portion for the service, will no longer receive non-emergency assistance from the county. “We will always assist in emergency situations,” stated Pevehouse.
In items of new business, the council discussed a new building and the hiring of an employee for the recycle program. Also, voted to pass along credit card fees to water department customers. Lastly, the council tenatively approved the proposed 2020 budget. Mayor Black stated that it will most likely be amended in the December and/or January meeting. Proposed changes that the council discussed included employee raises. “We will look at other things as well,” concluded Black.
In public comments and announcements, the Christmas tree lighting will be December 6, beginning at 6:30 p.m., followed by cookies and hot chocolate. Then, on Saturday, December 7, the annual Christmas parade will begin at 2 p.m. Lastly, Mr. Cabbagehead and the Screaming Radishes will perform on Saturday, December 14 at the Dixie Theater. There will be two shows, one at 3 p.m. and the other at 7 p.m. The admission is $5 per person.
With no other items of business, the meeting of the Mansfield City Council was adjourned.