City & County

City board OKs $273K for Feaster Park facilities, tables accounting software talk

By JOEL PHELPS | The Arkadelphian

Restroom facilities are coming soon to Feaster Park as the Arkadelphia Board of Directors on Tuesday approved a bid of $273,260 to have them built.

City officials have been trying for three years to add a restroom facility to the park but had no interested bidders. With a budget of $325,000 the latest bids, in late 2022, exceeded that amount by nearly $75,000, and another contractor placed a bid almost $100,000 over the city’s budget.

The Greenbrier-based Thompson Construction Services came through recently with a low bid on a four-restroom facility, which will be built between the baseball fields and the basketball courts and playground equipment.

The city had considered adding a concession stand to the blueprints but decided concessions would exceed budget and operate at a loss.

Fire truck to be sold

The Arkadelphia Fire Department in coming weeks will have a brand new fire engine. To make space for this $957,272 machine the city hopes to sell a pumper vehicle, a 1999 Ford 550XLT that is used as a service company truck, hauling ladders and extra equipment to fire and accident scenes.

Directors had few questions before they agreed to allow the truck to be sold on the GovDeals website. Ward 3 Director Keith Crews asked if there was an estimated value for the old truck. Fire Chief Jason Hunt said he had “no idea” as his research yielded ranges from $8,000 to $75,000.

3 named to planning commission

Directors approved the following residents to the city’s planning commission/board of zoning adjustments, with terms expiring in 2029:

Greg Vardaman

Dr. Derrick Ross

Terry Roberts (renewed term)

Technology talk tabled

At the motion of Crews, directors tabled discussion about a contract with a software firm that would provide accounting services for the city.

“As we have grown, we have faced growing pains, including the accounting software package we are using,” City Manager Gary Brinkley informed directors in a memo.

City treasurer Shacresha Wilson urged Brinkley in a separate memo to invest in a finance system capable of providing more financial information in real time, keeping record of budget adjustments and locating duplicate invoices “to name a few” needs. 

The CSA Software Solutions currently used apparently requires an amount of clerical file searching and arithmetic. The proposed Tyler Technologies, on the other hand, simplifies the process and makes the city’s financial information accessible in just a few clicks of a mouse.

Tyler Technologies would require a $130,000 startup cost to build the accounting ledger and transfer data from the city’s current system. The annual fee would be $53,000 and includes data storage, security and software upgrades.

Ward 1 Director Taylor Chaney inquired whether the new software would ensure security for potential data breeches. Brinkley said it would.

Crews took issue with the cost of the contract, saying it comes with a “pricey annual cost” given the number of city employees using the software. Brinkley said that between 10-12 staffers and department heads would use the software.

Ward 4 Director Reo Cummings asked if administration considered other options. Brinkley said they had whittled the list from about a dozen companies and determined Tyler Technologies was the best.

Crews then motioned to table discussion until directors had more information on what he called a “million dollar decision”. The motion to table was approved unanimously, with Mayor Scott Byrd and Ward 5 Director Jason Jones absent.

City manager’s report

• Last week, city staff held the first of what will be monthly meetings with water and sewer engineers as the city prepares for the relocation of utilities for the Arkadelphia Bypass and Pine Street widening projects. 

“We also have a significant amount of capital projects that we are working to prioritize for presentation at the budget retreat,” Brinkley said. The bond issuance request for the bypass relocation costs will be coming to the city board before August.

• The washout at the 8th Street bridge from February floods was addressed. An apron was poured to prevent future washouts.

• The street department completed the rebuild of the Evergreen storm water culvert. A 30-foot section of 36-inch culvert was replaced.

• The city is close to getting all the approvals to complete the first phase of a Feaster Trail project. Brinkley said he anticipates the city to have state approval to close the grant by April 21.

• Federal grants are expected to fully fund $1.5 million in upgrades at Dexter Florence Memorial Field, namely a taxiway rehabilitation and expansion.

• The city is hiring a “number” of positions in multiple departments.

Routine business

Cummings brought up potholes and asked that street department supervisor Kenny Myers check on road conditions. Brinkley said the street department is battling potholes in light of heavy rainfall and is working to make repairs when  weather permits them.

Chaney asked Brinkley to address critters getting into residents’ garbage. Brinkley said that so long as residents are placing their garbage at the curb at 7 a.m. the day of their collection there should be no issues with critters tearing into their trash as there is a “narrow window” between then and the time the trash is picked up. “If you set it out [the night before] that’s on you,” he said.

Crews commended staff for its work on keeping the city’s website up to date and looking professional.