The Van Buren City Council’s January meeting got off to a sweet start Monday night when a visiting group of Girl Scouts handed out a few boxes of their famous cookies to members of the council.
The Girl Scouts were from the Red Oak Service Unit and opened the meeting by leading the Pledge of Allegiance.
After receiving their cookies, the council members got into the meat of the meeting by passing a resolution supporting the House Joint Resolution 1018 of 2019. The resolution proposes an amendment to the Arkansas Constitution to continue a levy of a one-half percent sales and use tax for state highways and bridges, county roads, bridge, and other surface transportation and city streets, bridges and other surface transportation after the retirement of the bonds authorized in Arkansas Constitution, Amendment 91, as special revenue to be distributed under the Arkansas Highway Revenue Distribution Law.
The council’s vote of approval showed that it and Mayor Joe Hurst support the legal proposals contained in the resolution, as well as its adoption by the people of the state of Arkansas in the next general election.
The council then passed a resolution authorizing the mayor to provide financial assistance to the Western Arkansas Intermodal Authority for regional economic development.
The WAIA was formed by the cities of Van Buren and Fort Smith and the counties of Crawford and Sebastian with a goal of working toward improving the area’s effectiveness in transporting goods while enhancing the potential for economic development in the region.
Van Buren’s equal share is $20,000, an amount the city had already budgeted for 2020 for continued operations of WAIA.
The next move made by the council was to approve a resolution calling for the removal of items from the police department’s fixed asset list.
The items include an AutoClear X-Ray Machine valued at $14,750 at the time of purchase, an Acer/Vipre Voice Stress Device with a purchased value of $3,070, and a Kenwood Repeater Tower which was purchased for $1,972.08.
Van Buren Police Chief Jamie Hammond said the X-Ray machine is the one being used at the city’s municipal complex and is in need of repair.
“It will cost way too much to repair it or buy a new one,” he said. “It will be more efficient to look through visitors’ bags than to spend $25,000 on a new one or to fix the old one.”
The council then passed an ordinance amending an ordinance it passed last month regarding the control of access to streets and highways.
Certain wording in the ordinance needed to be changed, according to Planning Director Wally Bailey.
“As you recall, last month we added some requirements on residential access in this control of access ordinance,” Bailey said. “I realized the appeals process did not include residential. It only included commercial and industrial developments.”
Before being presented to the council the changes were made public during a public hearing held Jan. 7.
“We added wording concerning residential developments and changed (a typo of) the word ‘riot’ to ‘not,’” he said. “The ordinance also talked about the variance process but didn’t specify who should hear the variance – city council, or planning commission. This just clarifies that it’s the planning commission that will review the variance.”
After hearing the financial report that listed a balance of $1,608,961.16 the council moved to “pay the bills.”