Hope City Board

By Staff, 09/15/20 7:43 PM

The Hope City Board met Tuesday September 15th at the Fair Park Community Center.  The meeting was held at the Fair Park Community Center.  This location allows the board to social distance and also will allow up to 20 members of the public to attend.

The first order of business was an ordinance setting the city’s real and personal property tax millage.  The city is required to re-establish the rate every year and the Quorum Court, upon receipt of the ordinance, formally establish the rates for all taxing entities in the county.  The rate is unchanged from the 2020 rate.  The tax raised $459,762 last year.  The board approved the ordinance.

The board looked at a proposed ordinance setting the firemen’s pension millage.  This is set at 1 mill and the rate is unchanged.  Last year it raised $85,778.  The rate can’t be changed except by a vote of the public.  The ordinance was approved.

The board discussed the proposed donation of the former Atwood’s parking lot at Pine & 2nd and the adjoining former Kopecky property to the National Park Service.  The first part of the process is determining if the properties need to be surveyed.   Also, City Manager Catherine Cook said they need to see if there are legal descriptions of the property.  She noted a letter needs to be sent to the National Park Service indicating the city plans to donate the property.   Tarona Armstrong, Superintendent of the Clinton Birthplace also spoke at the meeting.

Under the city manager’s report, Catherine Cook gave an update on the census.  She noted the census is supposed to wrap up on the 30th of this month but there is talk it might be extended.  She noted response is less than 60%.  Cook also talked about “enumerators”.  Board member Mark Ross and Mayor Steve Montgomery noted they were aware of census workers in the city and county.  Cook also noted they have sent letters to the local churches to encourage their members to participate.  She said if we don’t get a good count, it will affect the city, the schools, and such funding as state turnback.  Board member Ross asked about adjustments after the census is closed.  Cook noted it is not known if adjustments will be accepted after the census finishes.  She cited adjustments in the census of 2000.  Cook also noted those without internet, if they wish to complete their census info online, they can come to city hall and use a computer.  Cook also gave an update on the work underway on the class IV landfill.  She noted this work is due to be completed next month.  Cook also noted the street contractor is expected into to complete paving for the street program.  The milling has been started.  Cook noted the rail spur project has been delayed due to rain.

Vice-Mayor Don Still said he’s been getting calls from citizens concerned about the parks continuing to be partially closed.  He detailed some of the activities in parks in other towns including Texarkana, Magnolia, and Nashville.  The Vice-Mayor said he feels for the businesses who rely on traffic from the park who are suffering.  Board member Mark Ross also echoed some of the Vice-Mayor’s concern.  Still said he doesn’t expect immediate action but wants to investigate the matter further and what can be done.  He cited a softball team that played the Lady Cats that later ate at Tailgater’s and made a big difference in the restaurant’s receipts that day.  Catherine Cook noted that large groups have to submit a plan to the health department before the city can even consider renting a facility.  Cook cited Hempstead Hall’s planned restrictions through the end of the year.  Discussion ensued concerning such events as softball tournaments.  Mayor Montgomery suggested the staff study the situation and bring suggestions to a future meeting.

City Manager Catherine Cook brought up the proposed name changes for the Confederate themed streets on the east side of town.  She said at least six suggestions have been submitted for street name changes.

Board member Mark Ross asked about the old Boy Scout building in Fair Park.  Cook noted the board had approved tearing down the building and building a park storage facility.  This project is temporarily on hold.

Mayor Steve Montgomery thanked the board members who have filed to run again for city board.  The meeting then adjourned.