CITY OF TEXARKANA, AR

REQUEST FOR BOARD ACTION

 

AGENDA TITLE:  Approval of Minutes of the regular meeting December 19, 2016. (CCD)

AGENDA DATE:  January 3, 2017

ITEM#:  9A

DEPARTMENT: City Clerk

DATE SUBMITTED: December 19,2016

PREPARED BY:  Heather Soyars

SUBJECT:  Board meeting minutes.

EXHIBITS:  Minutes

APPROVAL: 

EXPENSE REQUIRED: $0.00

AMOUNT BUDGETED: $0.00

APPROPRIATION REQUIRED:  $0.00

SUMMARY:  Board meeting minutes.

BOARD ACTION:  The City Clerk recommends Board approval.

EMERGENCY CLAUSE:  No emergency clause is requested. 

 

MEETING OF THE

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

OF THE CITY OF TEXARKANA, ARKANSAS

DECEMBER 19, 2016

__________________________________

MEMBERS PRESENT:

The Board of Directors of the City of Texarkana, Arkansas, convened in regular session at 6:00 PM on Monday, December 19, 2016.

ROLL CALL:

Mayor Ruth Penney Bell asked the Clerk to call the roll and the following Board Members were present:  Mayor Bell, Assistant Mayor Laney J. Harris, and Directors Sue Johnson, Tim Johnson, Barbara S. Miner, Travis Odom and Allan Wren.  Also present were City Manager Kenny Haskin, City Attorney George M. Matteson and City Clerk Heather Soyars. 

Mayor Bell asked it be duly noted there was a quorum present for tonight’s meeting.

INVOCATION:

The invocation was given by Director Tim Johnson.

PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE:

Director Tim Johnson led everyone in the Pledge of Allegiance.

COMMENTS FROM THE MAYOR:

Welcome:

            Mayor Bell welcomed everyone to tonight’s meeting.

Board Meeting Procedure:

Mayor Bell briefly reviewed the board meeting procedures and pointed out the Agenda Item Cards, Citizens’ Communication Cards, and agendas along the rail for tonight’s Board meeting.  The Mayor asked any audience member interested in speaking at tonight’s Board meeting to complete one of the cards and turn the card in to the City Clerk.  She said this would help run an organized meeting and allowed the Clerk to have the necessary information for the meeting minutes.  She stated any citizen may comment on any item on the agenda and express their desires, but would be limited to five minutes.

QUESTIONS FROM DIRECTORS AND OTHER BUSINESS:

            Mayor Bell asked if the Directors had any questions or comments.

          No one came forward.

PRESENTATION(S):

Directors – Years of Service Awards:

Mayor Bell presented plaques to Allan Wren, Director Ward 1 and Sue Johnson, Director Ward 6.  Director Wren served on the Board since January 2015, and his term expired December 31, 2016.  Director Sue Johnson served on the Board since January 1996, and her term also expired December 31, 2016.  They accepted the honor and thanked Mayor Bell, the Board of Directors, and the City Manager.

Director S. Johnson said to Mayor Bell, the Board of Directors and City staff, she offered her sincerest and heartfelt thanks to the citizens of Texarkana, Arkansas, especially Ward 6.  It had been an honor to serve and was a privilege she would always cherish.  She had been humbled by the kind words and support she received throughout her twenty-one years as a City Director.  When she ran for Ward 6 Director in the special election in 1995, her youngest son was 13 years old.  Now he was 34, married and had 9 year old son.  Her oldest son was married and had one child when she took office, and now they had four kids.  She wanted to thank her husband who stood by her through all of the challenges, the late nights, and the special called meetings.  She was also blessed by his love and support.  She said now the time had come for her to spend time with her family.  She had always worked with the best interest of the City at heart, and for the people she cared for.  She left a City Board committed to make Texarkana a better place.  She said now after twenty-one years, four Mayors, and six City Managers, it was time to say goodbye. 

Director Wren said it had been an absolute honor and privilege to serve as an interim Board member for the last two years.  He said the Board was very kind to appoint him to this position.  He wanted the public to know, and rest assured this City Government worked darn hard and did good work.  He could not be more proud to be a part of the Board.  The biggest fear he had was he thought his 7th grade English teacher, Mayor Bell, would catch him with a subject/verb that did not match.  He thanked everyone and said as your neighbor he was not far away and he hoped to contribute in other ways in the future. 

Bob Bruggeman, Texarkana, Texas Mayor said he served on the Urban Transit Board, which provided transportation to the citizens in Texarkana, Arkansas, Texarkana, Texas, Nash, and Wake Village.  He wanted to bring to our attention there were many citizens in our community who did not have transportation, and the only way they could get from point A to point B was to ride the public transit system.  It was a great board, made up of representatives from the surrounding jurisdictions and it was an honor for him to recognize Sue Johnson for her distinguished service to the Urban Transit Board. 

Chris Brown, Ark-Tex Council of Governments, said he had only been on the board a short time.  He had the staff at T-Line do research, and there was not a single meeting minutes Sue Johnson’s name was not in.  She had been on the board since it had started.  He wanted to say thank you for her service, guidance, and her leadership on the board. 

Mayor Bruggeman said the representation on the Urban Transit Board from the Arkansas-side consisted of Mayor Bell, Assistant Mayor Harris and Director Sue Johnson.  He said Sue Johnson’s presence was going to be missed on the Board and presented her with two plaques.  He again thanked her for the service. 

Director S. Johnson introduced her family; husband Steve, granddaughter Eva Catherine, daughter-in-law Karen, grandson Spencer and son Steven.

Director Odom thanked Director Wren and Director S. Johnson for the great job they had done.  It had been an honor and pleasure to serve with them.  Merry Christmas and have a great 2017.

Retirement:

Mayor Bell presented retiring City Planner Carl Teel with a certificate for his years of service with the Public Works Department.  He had been with the City since September 2014.  Mayor Bell wished Mr. Teel well on his retirement.

Carl Teel said in his 45 years in working with the public, working with the City of Texarkana, Arkansas had been one of the highest privileges he had.  On behalf of his wife, himself, and extended family he wanted to thank the Board for the opportunity to serve as City Planner.  God bless you.

CONSENT AGENDA:

Director S. Johnson moved to approve the consent agenda.  The motion was seconded by Director Odom and carried unanimously.  The items approved by consent were:

MINUTES:

The minutes approved were of the regular meeting November 21, 2016; the called meeting November 28, 2016; the called meeting of December 1, 2016 and the rescheduled regular meeting December 5, 2016.  

RESOLUTION NO. 2016-81:

Resolution No. 2016-81 authorized and directed the City Manager to enter into a renewal agreement with the Housing Authority of the City of Texarkana, Arkansas for services of two (2) officers assigned from the Texarkana, Arkansas Police Department for special patrols and enforcement operations on Housing Authority properties.

REGULAR AGENDA:

RESOLUTION NO. 2016-82:

            The resolution was read in its entirety.  Said resolution amended Resolution No. 2016-74 approving the FY2017 Budget to allow parity payment changes.

Finance Director TyRhonda Henderson said this item was to amend the year end 2017 budget approved by the Board of Directors on November 21, 2016 with Resolution No. 2016-74.  Over the past few months, parity pay had been an issue of contention for the City.  After several discussions, an agreement had been reached.  Parity pay sales tax collections were not enough to meet parity in 2017 and the year ending 2016 unreserved fund balance was more than 15% of year ending 2016 expenditures.  As a result, the agreement was a 4% increase towards parity beginning January 2017 for all civil service positions receiving an increase of 4% or more.  For those civil service positions receiving less than a 4% increase, full parity would be met in January 2017.  Depending on the level of fund balance, the civil service employees would either receive a 3% or 4% increase towards parity in subsequent years until full parity was met.  This amendment would cost the City an additional $137,200.  The City Manager recommended approving the amendment.

Mayor Bell asked what was the total combined amount that came in from the percentages allowed in the first vote, 25% for Police and 25% for Fire. 

Ms. Henderson said the total was $2.26 million.

Mayor Bell asked how much was required to meet the total parity.

Ms. Henderson said in order to meet total parity for 2017, it would require $3.1 million and the cost of the increase alone was $650,000. 

Mayor Bell asked how much was the City lacking.

Ms. Henderson said those numbers were in her office but she could get them if needed.

Mayor Bell asked if revenues were down, and if it came from sales tax.

Ms. Henderson said yes, the sales tax had flat lined over the years.  With all the changes in beer and wine sales, it had an effect on the City.  Instead of the sales tax growing like they had in the past, sales tax had now flat lined.  Also franchise fees were down significantly, she had been in touch with representatives with SWEPCO and the utilities were down across the board.  

Director S. Johnson said in the November 21 2016, meeting when she made the motion to amend the proposed resolution to start parity in January 2017, it was discussed the City did not have the funds to do so and if the City took the money out of the Reserve Fund it would put the City in jeopardy.  Then she made the motion to approve the budget as presented and to start parity in July 2017, and the remainder in January 2018, and this resolution did pass.  Now the Board was going to take money out of the Reserve Fund.  Why was the City doing this when the Board passed the proposal for the budget to start in July 2017?

City Manager Dr. Kenny Haskin said the new proposal would cost the City around two and one half days of Fund Balance.  The proposal presented earlier would have cost the City around eight days of Fund Balance. 

Director S. Johnson said in this resolution it talked about benefits and she thought parity was only hourly base pay.

Ms. Henderson said when there were any change to parity it affected everything. 

Director S. Johnson said she understood, but she thought money for parity came out of another fund.

Ms. Henderson said all of the money would come out of Fund Balance and it had been part of the discussion on what should be included in the cost of parity and we were still working on, but when you made any change to parity it affected all benefits not just one thing.  

Dr. Haskin said it cost the City more to give them more money.  

Mayor Bell said as we discussed in our last meeting, we were looking for ways to help and start something more beneficial.  She said Director Wren proposed we got a group together and talk about ways to address the issue.  Everyone had been meeting together, and this was the best solution the Finance Department thought would be beneficial to everyone. 

Ms. Henderson said this proposal was brought to her on two separate occasions, after the Finance Department put the numbers together, and spoke with Dr. Haskin, he thought it was the best middle ground agreement going forward.

Director S. Johnson asked were both departments in support of this.

Mayor Bell said the Board was the one who made the policies and these were the hard questions the Board had to address.  Policies were not made by the departments; the Board made the policies and the department heads go with what the Board said.  We were here to represent everyone on the City payroll; and we were here to represent the best interest of the citizens of the Wards we represented.  If we trusted our City Manager and the Finance Department, then this was what our votes were based on.  However the vote went, we would accept the vote from this Board, because we had the responsibility.   

Director Odom, seconded by Director T. Johnson, moved to adopt the resolution.

Assistant Mayor Harris asked if previous resolutions were not binding, or could they be changed.  There was a resolution back in 2006, similar to what we were voting on tonight, and if this resolution was passed, did it supersede the previous resolution. 

City Attorney George Matteson said a resolution would be intent of the Board at the present moment, as opposed to an ordinance would be something permanent in nature.  

Assistant Mayor Harris said the ordinance was more binding in stone than the resolution. 

Assistant Mayor Harris said after looking at the minutes and they kept talking about the City’s finance situation, it should be the controlling force, not what someone felt they were owed.  He realized what the voters voted on back in 1996, but the voters did not put in a continually binding way to finance parity pay.  The Board came up with a way to fund parity pay.  There was an issue as to what was taken from Police regarding the last meeting we had; saying the Police felt they had been robbed.  If the Police gave $8 million more than was taken, how you could say you had been robbed.  Mr. Harris felt like the Board had been kicked around saying they had not done what needed to be done.  If the Police had received $8 million in the past, he felt like the Board had gone beyond the will of the voters.  He said everyone needed to take a trip onto the Texas-side and see what was going on over there.  Behind Target they were building another shopping mall and the revenue was going to go back up.  He felt the Board was trying their best to meet parity pay.  Look at the force controlling parity pay, another city, and another state based on different tax base.  Our sales tax was not at the point it used to be, the City had businesses closing down.  Texarkana, Arkansas did not have the business growth Texas-side had, but yet we were basing the salaries on another city and state.  It was not the Board controlling parity pay it was the sales tax.  No one on the Board was questioning the danger the Police and Fire faced, but no one on the Board had gone out of their way to try and stop the Police and Fire from getting the parity pay.  This was one of the best resolutions the Finance Department could find for Police and Fire to get parity pay.  The public was hearing a lot and wondering why the Police and Fire did not get their money, but look where the money was coming from.  Sales tax and property tax were different bases and we did not have the control.  Mr. Harris said just really look into what parity pay was based on and once you find out, you would see the City of Texarkana, Arkansas Board, the financial staff and the City Manager, they were doing the best they could, based on the limited resources the City had.

Director S. Johnson said she supported the resolution in November to start parity pay in July and then in January but she would vote no tonight.

The Clerk called the roll and the following vote resulted: Directors Harris, T. Johnson, Miner, Odom, Wren, and Bell voted aye.  Director S. Johnson voted nay.  The Mayor declared the resolution passed, as there were six ayes and one nay.

CITIZEN COMMUNICATION:

            Mayor Bell asked if anyone in the audience would like to speak, on any subject up to a total of five minutes.

            Police Chief Bob Harrison said he abided by the decision of what the Board wanted to be done.  Earlier in the week there was a letter written to follow the resolution starting parity pay in July and then in January.  It certainly would not be done at this point.  The main interest at this point for Police and Fire was to find a resolution for parity, define parity, what it was and how it needed to be paid.   The Police Association would retain counsel and would work with the City Manager and the City Attorney between now and July attempting to find where it needed to go and if a trust account needed to be set up.  If we all could not agree, then we should take it to the voters and let them decide.  The Board did tonight what they thought needed to be done and we thank you for that, but we would not be satisfied until the parity issue was resolved or we would be back next year with the same issue.  Hopefully, we all could get together and define somethings and make some progress.

            No one else came forward

ADJOURNMENT:

Director S. Johnson, seconded by Director T. Johnson, moved to adjourn the meeting.  The Clerk called the roll and the following vote resulted: Directors Harris, S. Johnson, T. Johnson, Miner, Odom, Wren and Bell voted aye.  The Mayor declared the meeting adjourned, as there were seven ayes and no nays.

The meeting adjourned at 6:40 PM.

 

_______________________________

Ruth Penney Bell, Mayor

ATTEST:

 

_____________________________

Heather Soyars, City Clerk

 

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