City & County

City manager asking for more spending power

The Arkadelphia Board of Directors will have several decisions to make this Tuesday in a public meeting.

Among them is an ordinance requesting more spending power be given to the city manager. Currently, the city manager has the authority to spend up to $20,000 on operating costs without competitive bidding and city board approval. That figure was set in 2013 at the behest of the previous administration; prior to then the city manager could spend $10,000 without bids.

“We had desired to wait and see if [building] costs would return to previous levels, but that is not the case.”

— Gary Brinkley, Arkadelphia city manager
Gary Brinkley

City Manager Gary Brinkley is pointing to post-pandemic inflation as the reason for asking to increase his spending power to $35,000 on goods and services and $50,000 on building repairs or “other” permanent improvements.

“The increased limits are necessary to keep business operations flowing,” Brinkley wrote in a memorandum to city directors. “We had desired to wait and see if costs … would return to previous levels, but that is not the case and we must adjust so that we can continue to operate and run the [city] without being undue burdened with bidding items which are now, based on cost, considered normal operation costs.”

Change order to drainage project

Directors are to consider a $26,910 change order for a drainage project near Henderson State University.

A change order is a modification to an original agreement on the cost of a project, usually adding work for the contractor and cost to the customer. In this case, Township Builders Inc. is requesting additional stabilization work on the Henderson Street drainage project.

“We have identified items along the former route that goes under and/or near buildings and through yards that requires additional stabilization,” Brinkley told directors via memo. “The new route moves away from all buildings and will be located along common plat lines for ease of future repairs.”

The change order increases the Henderson Street project to $366,210.

Emergency communications tower

The city’s police and fire chiefs are hoping to improve radio communications throughout town. There are reportedly certain buildings in the city and places along Interstate 30 where radio communications are spotty.

To alleviate this problem, city officials are wanting to erect a $287,600 tower, a move that has been in the works for about three years but lacked solid specifications for bids. There was also during that time an invitation from the state to join its Arkansas Wireless Information Network — linking all first responders in the state on the same line — but the City of Arkadelphia “simply cannot afford” that move. However, “we will join the AWIN system” at “some point in the future,” Brinkley said in the memo.

Of the six packets Fire Chief Jason Hunt sent out in November, the lone bidder, Midway Electronics, submitted two options. The more economical solution is a $279,500 tower with pipe legs. Hunt deduced from his research that the more expensive solid rod leg tower would require less maintenance, as the pipe legs periodically need painting to thwart rust.

ArDOT surrendering 6th Street to city

The Arkansas Department of Transportation currently maintains South 6th Street as it is along the route of U.S. Highway 67. Once the Arkadelphia Bypass is complete, 67 will be re-routed to include South 10th Street.

Discussions were had but never formalized on who would maintain the 10th Street portion of the bypass. On Tuesday, directors are set to pass a formal agreement with ArDOT to yield 6th Street to the city in exchange for the state’s maintenance of 10th Street.

Brinkley noted in a memo that ArDOT resurfaced 6th Street earlier this year.

New sanitation truck

An Arkadelphia sanitation front load truck, left, was totaled in a Nov. 17 collision with a dump truck on North 10th Street in front of Cannon Auto. | Joel Phelps/The Arkadelphian

Following a Nov. 17 accident involving a dump truck and a city-owned front load truck (the type that lifts and empties Dumpsters), directors are faced with replacing the truck, which was totaled in the wreck. The city claims no fault in the accident.

The city board will consider a two-year lease agreement with Arkansas Municipal Equipment. The lease includes a guaranteed buy-back of $275,000 if the latter’s terms and conditions are met.

Rezoning North 10th Street property

A rezoning ordinance on the table indicates that an Arkadelphia landowner has plans to commercialize an undeveloped lot on North 10th Street.

Currently zoned as multi-family residential, 1019 N. 10th St. is set to become rezoned as highway commercial. Located south of Ludwig’s Bakery and owned by the Roger Wingfield Revocable Trust, a public hearing on the matter was held in November, with the city’s Planning Commission voting in favor of recommending that the board rezone the property.

The 0.8-acre lot currently has a U-shaped driveway, and in recent weeks has had timber cleared from it.

Other business

• Directors will consider a resolution to accept a $90,247 public safety grant. Police Chief Jason “Shorty” Jackson will brief directors on what equipment will be purchased with the grant.

• The board will hear an update on the proposed 2023 budget.

• Holiday bonuses for city employees will be considered. As 2022 has been a “wonderfully challenging” year with city staffers “persevering and performing very well,” Brinkley is recommending board approval of $500 for full-time employees and $250 for part-time employees and volunteer firemen. The recommended bonus is the same as the past two years and costs a total of $67,723 with the inclusion of unemployment and FICA taxes.

• Directors will hear from Brinkley about a cancellation of this year’s slurry seal project for secondary streets. Missouri Petroleum, the company contracted to complete the work, was reportedly unable to make its way into Southwest Arkansas this year. Brinkley has terminated the agreement with that company.

The city board meeting is Tuesday, Dec. 6, at 5:30 p.m. in the Town Hall Boardroom. The meeting is open to the public.