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March 21st Hope City Board Meeting

By Staff, 03/22/17 7:54 AM

HOPE – The Hope City Board met Tuesday, March 21st.

Mayor Steve Montgomery opened the meeting by urging decorum from those who speak in the meeting. He noted all the issues discussed are important to someone and he asked all speakers to exercise courtesy.

The first item on the agenda was a presentation by Hope Water and Light Manager Steve Saum. Saum noted Hope Water and Light is one of 36 utilities in the state and out of those utilities, Hope Water and Light ranks exactly in the middle of the 18th. He explained that 76% of what customers pay goes to SWEPCO and the Southwest Power Pool. He showed a comparison of Hope Water and Light with nearby towns including Prescott, Texarkana, Ashdown and other area towns. Saum showed that Hope Water and Light electric bills are under the state average. He also explained the deposits customers pay. Saum also detailed new services to come, including advanced metering infrastructure. He also detailed coming online payment options and services.

Hope Star Editor Rick Kennedy spoke following Saum’s presentation. Kennedy suggested that having SWEPCO be the direct provider might be more efficient. He also suggested an efficiency study on the utility. Kennedy asked that the Hope Water and Light rate increases be stopped and reduced…

Lynn Heckman of Hope Outdoor Power and Equipment noted that his business electric bill decreased when he replaced his light fixtures with modern ones. Attorney Blake Montgomery asked Saum about the utilities ranking before the rate increases. He also asked about sanitation rates for apartment dwellers. Board member Don Hall asked about charges for customers who don’t pay their bills. City

Manager Catherine Cook spoke on a proposal with the Chamber of Commerce to spend $15,000 to $20,000 to partner with the Chamber on a person who would work as a Chamber Director and as a Downtown Developer. The board voted to proceed with negotiating a contract with the Chamber for these services.

The board approved a resolution approving that the city audit will follow the format approved by the Government Standards Accounting Board. The board then looked at audit bids. William C. Miller, CPA, of Little Rock won the bid at $29,500 per year. He was $15,500 per year less than the next lowest bid.

The board approved some bids for the Parks Department: two zero-turn mowers that will come from Hope Outdoor Power and Equipment. The board voted to buy a mechanical take and infield groomer from Professional Turf Products of Euless, Texas. The board voted to buy a tractor with loader for the park from Hope Tractor. The board voted to purchase a tiller attachment from Hope Tractor. The board did not accept the one bid they got on an ATV.

The Dox building was discussed and City Manager Cook said they “need to spread the net wider” to find someone to take the building down. She noted that they want to make sure that the demolition doesn’t negatively impact the National Building and Western Auto.

Under the City Manager’s report, Ms. Cook said that the contractor is working to finish the landfill expansion by early May. She also gave an update on wastewater work. She also noted that Police Chief J.R. Wilson just finished attending the FBI Leadership Academy. Cook said that a planning and goals meeting is set for March 28th. She also said a street committee meeting is needed and they will do that on arch 28th as well.

Director Mark Ross noted deteriorating structures at Pine and “D”, Third and Edgewood and behind Southwest Transmission. The rail spur work was also discussed.

Blake Montgomery asked about the property owner’s responsibility on the cost of the Dox building demolition. Montgomery asked about the possibility of going after active revenue that goes to the property owner. The board will refer that to City Attorney Joe Short. Lynn Heckman gave a report on work he’s doing to stabilize the old Scott’s building on 2nd Street downtown. Mike Malek asked about commercial deposits for Hope Water and Light.

The meeting then adjourned.

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