City of Hartford Appoints New Mayor

hallmayor.jpg

The Hartford City Council met July
22, 2019, at 6 p.m., to discuss, among other business, the appointment of a
mayor to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of former-mayor Mary
Radley.  

Judy Adair, City Recorder-Treasurer, called the meeting to order.  She reminded the council that it had been decided at the last meeting that while written financial reports would be included in council’s packets, verbal financial reports would no longer be given.  Councilman Eddie Kazy stated he had a request from a resident that verbal reports given.  Adair replied that council had already decided the issue, and unless they wanted to revisit that decision, verbal reports would not be given.  Adair noted that written reports were available to anyone who wanted them.  It was agreed that a copy of the written financial reports would be made available to the public at the regular city council meetings.

Employee Rich Galyen addressed the continuing problem of the city’s water loss, and reported on several leaks that have been repaired in the last month.  He noted that the city’s daily use is down considerably, and that next month’s water reports should reflect this.  He also reported on his plans to repair a water leak on Olive Street. 

There was a consensus of approval regarding newly hired employee, Levi Smith, who is working on an as-needed basis and at minimum wage. 

Next, Adair opened the floor to audience comments regarding the recent enforcement of the city’s property cleanup ordinance. Only one citizen spoke, and it was with gratitude to the city for enforcing the ordinance.

Council then voted to go into executive session to
discuss the appointment of a new mayor. After returning to regular
session, the motion was made and seconded to appoint Larry Hall
as mayor to fill out the remainder of the term, which ends December
31, 2022.  This motion was approved by a 6-0 vote of council.

Noting that there have been no applicants for the vacant
water operator position, Adair recommended hiring James Fildes as the
city’s ORC (Operator in Responsible Charge), while Rich Galyen continues to run
the street and water departments.  Council approved hiring James Fildes as
the ORC on a contract labor basis until the city hires a licensed water
operator.

Last month, the City of Mansfield presented a sanitation
contract to the City of Hartford. Adair stated that Altes had
challenged the City of Hartford’s legal ability to secure a sanitation contract
without a bidding process. According to Adair, she inquired with the legal
staff at the Arkansas Municipal League about this matter and found
that the city is not bound by the statute that requires a bidding process on
projects over $20,000 since Hartford is, by size, a city of the second class.
 The statute applies only to cities of the first class.  The
sanitation contract was discussed among the council members. There was
concern over the five year term, as well as the clause that
allows for a yearly increase in rates.  Council expressed an
interest in making sure the increase is limited proportionally to the business
done in Hartford.  Council gave Mayor Hall the authority to sign the
sanitation contract with Mansfield provided the issues raised were
satisfactorily addressed.  

Adair then presented council with the renewal information
for the city’s two water department CDs.  Water Clerk Michael Fildes
recommended that some of the funds in the water meter deposit account
be moved to either the CD or the water operating fund.  Once it was
determined that the CD has the proper amount of escrow for the
water meter deposits on hand, it was decided that $2500 will be kept in the
water meter deposit account and the balance will be transferred to the water operating
fund.

In other business, Bob Ellison of West
Hartford has expressed interest in creating an outdoor
entertainment area in downtown Hartford. Ellison plans
to build a stage and include patio tables and chairs for free use by the
citizens for family and musical events. He offered to lease it to the City of
Hartford for $1 per year. After discussing the proposal, council expressed
approval of the plan, but noted that utilities would be the
responsibility of Ellison. The City of Hartford would provide insurance
for the property.  There were several other related issues that council
felt should be addressed, so it was decided that Adair would prepare a contract
addressing these issues for council to consider at the next meeting.  Mr.
Ellison’s interest in providing the city with a low-cost option for an
entertainment area was noted and commended by council.  

The next topic for consideration was that of an upcoming
animal control workshop.  Police Chief Keith Dedmon stated the laws for
picking up animals, kenneling them, and performing euthanasia will
change in 2020. There is a certification program through the Arkansas
State Animal Control. Adair noted that she would be interested
in both Galyen and herself being certified in animal
control, but said that if the city can only send one person, she
felt Galyen would be the best person to attend.  The course will be
held September 9-13 in Little Rock.  The cost for two people to
attend would be around $1500 for the workshop, certification, and hotel.
After a discussion, it was decided by the council to send Galyen to obtain his
certification, pending a verification of when the change in law will take
place. 

In employee business, Adair recommended giving a raise to
Galyen, noting the long hours he has put in and his dedication to locating and
repairing leaks in the water lines.  Council voted to raise Galyen’s pay
to $12 per hour.  In addition, council voted to add
extra allowed hours for Michael Fildes,
who was recently re-hired as water clerk, so that he may correct
mistakes entered into the water department billing
program and perform maintenance that had been neglected in the past
several months.  It was unanimously approved to change his hours from
16-20 hours each week to 20-24 hours per week.

Council
also approved the repair of sewer lines in City Hall, accepting a bid from
plumber Mark Beckham.

Following a discussion of the water system master meter
being out of the industry standard of tolerance by one-half percent, which
amounts to a three percent error in the reading of the
amount of water purchased from James Fork, council approved buying a new
master meter and having the old meter calibrated so that it can be used for a
backup meter.

All
business being concluded, the council meeting was adjourned.

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