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Thursday, August 18, 2022

City of Hartford Appoints New Mayor

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The Hartford City Council met July 22, 2019, at 6 p.m., to discuss, among other business, the appointment of a mayor to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of former-mayor Mary Radley.  

Judy Adair, City Recorder-Treasurer, called the meeting to order.  She reminded the council that it had been decided at the last meeting that while written financial reports would be included in council’s packets, verbal financial reports would no longer be given.  Councilman Eddie Kazy stated he had a request from a resident that verbal reports given.  Adair replied that council had already decided the issue, and unless they wanted to revisit that decision, verbal reports would not be given.  Adair noted that written reports were available to anyone who wanted them.  It was agreed that a copy of the written financial reports would be made available to the public at the regular city council meetings.

Employee Rich Galyen addressed the continuing problem of the city’s water loss, and reported on several leaks that have been repaired in the last month.  He noted that the city’s daily use is down considerably, and that next month’s water reports should reflect this.  He also reported on his plans to repair a water leak on Olive Street. 

There was a consensus of approval regarding newly hired employee, Levi Smith, who is working on an as-needed basis and at minimum wage. 

Next, Adair opened the floor to audience comments regarding the recent enforcement of the city’s property cleanup ordinance. Only one citizen spoke, and it was with gratitude to the city for enforcing the ordinance.

Council then voted to go into executive session to discuss the appointment of a new mayor. After returning to regular session, the motion was made and seconded to appoint Larry Hall as mayor to fill out the remainder of the term, which ends December 31, 2022.  This motion was approved by a 6-0 vote of council.

Noting that there have been no applicants for the vacant water operator position, Adair recommended hiring James Fildes as the city’s ORC (Operator in Responsible Charge), while Rich Galyen continues to run the street and water departments.  Council approved hiring James Fildes as the ORC on a contract labor basis until the city hires a licensed water operator.

Last month, the City of Mansfield presented a sanitation contract to the City of Hartford. Adair stated that Altes had challenged the City of Hartford’s legal ability to secure a sanitation contract without a bidding process. According to Adair, she inquired with the legal staff at the Arkansas Municipal League about this matter and found that the city is not bound by the statute that requires a bidding process on projects over $20,000 since Hartford is, by size, a city of the second class.  The statute applies only to cities of the first class.  The sanitation contract was discussed among the council members. There was concern over the five year term, as well as the clause that allows for a yearly increase in rates.  Council expressed an interest in making sure the increase is limited proportionally to the business done in Hartford.  Council gave Mayor Hall the authority to sign the sanitation contract with Mansfield provided the issues raised were satisfactorily addressed.  

Adair then presented council with the renewal information for the city’s two water department CDs.  Water Clerk Michael Fildes recommended that some of the funds in the water meter deposit account be moved to either the CD or the water operating fund.  Once it was determined that the CD has the proper amount of escrow for the water meter deposits on hand, it was decided that $2500 will be kept in the water meter deposit account and the balance will be transferred to the water operating fund.

In other business, Bob Ellison of West Hartford has expressed interest in creating an outdoor entertainment area in downtown Hartford. Ellison plans to build a stage and include patio tables and chairs for free use by the citizens for family and musical events. He offered to lease it to the City of Hartford for $1 per year. After discussing the proposal, council expressed approval of the plan, but noted that utilities would be the responsibility of Ellison. The City of Hartford would provide insurance for the property.  There were several other related issues that council felt should be addressed, so it was decided that Adair would prepare a contract addressing these issues for council to consider at the next meeting.  Mr. Ellison’s interest in providing the city with a low-cost option for an entertainment area was noted and commended by council.  

The next topic for consideration was that of an upcoming animal control workshop.  Police Chief Keith Dedmon stated the laws for picking up animals, kenneling them, and performing euthanasia will change in 2020. There is a certification program through the Arkansas State Animal Control. Adair noted that she would be interested in both Galyen and herself being certified in animal control, but said that if the city can only send one person, she felt Galyen would be the best person to attend.  The course will be held September 9-13 in Little Rock.  The cost for two people to attend would be around $1500 for the workshop, certification, and hotel. After a discussion, it was decided by the council to send Galyen to obtain his certification, pending a verification of when the change in law will take place. 

In employee business, Adair recommended giving a raise to Galyen, noting the long hours he has put in and his dedication to locating and repairing leaks in the water lines.  Council voted to raise Galyen’s pay to $12 per hour.  In addition, council voted to add extra allowed hours for Michael Fildes, who was recently re-hired as water clerk, so that he may correct mistakes entered into the water department billing program and perform maintenance that had been neglected in the past several months.  It was unanimously approved to change his hours from 16-20 hours each week to 20-24 hours per week.

Council also approved the repair of sewer lines in City Hall, accepting a bid from plumber Mark Beckham.

Following a discussion of the water system master meter being out of the industry standard of tolerance by one-half percent, which amounts to a three percent error in the reading of the amount of water purchased from James Fork, council approved buying a new master meter and having the old meter calibrated so that it can be used for a backup meter.

All business being concluded, the council meeting was adjourned.

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