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Council approves contract, CARES funding and lawsuit

By Staff, 05/19/20 9:24 AM

PRESCOTT – It was back to business for the Prescott City Council Monday night.

Instead of the councilmen all being at one table, only two were seated at the main table, while others sat alone at tables in the Hamilton-Blakely Senior Adult Center in observance of social distancing because of the coronavirus. Prescott Mayor Terry Oliver stood at a podium by the front door.

Oliver began by praising the job done by the city’s department heads as they made sure their employees followed the guidelines concerning the virus. He told the council there were some close calls, but by working together and keeping the virus in mind, there were no problems.

When asked about the budget and sales tax, Oliver said projects the city normally budgets for the sales tax don’t all get done so things should even out unless the collection of sales tax gets really low.

The question was also raised as to why the city uses the firm of Taylor and Rogers to do the city’s audits. Oliver said the city has used this firm for years, since before he became mayor.

Carl Dalrymple, the city’s accountant, said because of the electric company the state’s legislative auditors can’t audit all of the city’s finances, but could do those dealing with taxes. Because of this, the city contracts an outside firm to audit the books.

Kiron Browning, with A.L. Franks Engineering of Texarkana, was on hand for the awarding of a contract for a water and sewer project. The low bid, he said, came from Bobo and Bain of Hope at $210,156.21. The project calls for the replacement of water and sewer lines on First, Olive and Pine Streets, along with a six-inch main on Walnut. The city received a grant of $170,717 for the project, but must pay the rest, or $39,439.21.

Perry Nelson, superintendent of the water and sewer department, reminded the council the city developed three projects three years ago but couldn’t get funding for them. This grant came along and now the city is able to get them done.

One portion of the project will see sewer lines currently under Hwy. 67 that were installed in 1911, moved behind businesses in the area to provide access to them. On Walnut St., he said, a fire in the area caused the line to blow out as it couldn’t handle the strain, so it will be replaced. Nelson said the city will look at trimming project costs and could save $15,000 to $20,000 by doing this.

Glenn Vasser, city attorney, told the council it would be in the city’s best interest to follow the Power Association’s request and approach the state for funding from the CARES Act to help small businesses pay their utility bills. He said 75 percent of the PPP money is earmarked for salaries, but the CARES money would help small businesses and non-profits. The city would help with the application process and forego disconnects while businesses are applying. However, the city will also have to report the number of grants received. The council approved the measure.

It also passed a resolution to allow the city to lease a new trash truck and purchase trash cans for city residents to use. Oliver said most cities are going to the lease program for vehicles as there’s no market for used trash trucks.

The trash cans, he added, will be maroon and white. The city will furnish one per household and any others would have to be bought by residents.

The council also agreed to participate in a class action lawsuit concerning a case pending by Jefferson County. Jefferson County has sued online travel companies for collecting sales taxes, but not remitting them to the state. Vasser said being part of the suit won’t cost the city anything, but it could benefit by getting part of any settlement that may come of it.