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Council hears of possible suit against court

Carlisle City Attorney Mike Stuart informed the Carlisle City Council of a possible upcoming lawsuit against the Carlisle District Court during Tuesday night’s council meeting.

According to Stuart, a class action suit was filed on Jan. 17 in Mississippi County against 75 district courts in Arkansas, including the Carlisle District Court. The suit filed pertains to a discount not being giving by district courts on fees accumulated during moving violations and other offenses made while in control of a motor vehicle. Stuart said state law requires a $10 discount be given when motorist are wearing a seat belt. The complaint filed states that over the past five years since the law went into effect, the $10 deduction was not reflected in any fees assessed, Stuart said.

In the event the suit does take place against the city, the Arkansas Municipal League or lawyers hired by the municipal league will defend the city. The city pays an annual fee for these services.

Stuart said he has been in contact with Mark Haze, head of legal defense for the Arkansas Municipal League. He said the Municipal League ask that the council authorize the mayor and city attorney to take part in the league’s defense.

As of Tuesday, Stuart said current district court clerk Beth Plafcan has yet to be served a court summons.

“Its probably not wise for us to be a part of the municipal defense until Beth is served,” Stuart said. “I suggest we wait until if, or after we are served to authorize the mayor and city attorney to move forward. We can discuss what to do at that point in an upcoming meeting or special meeting.”

According to Stuart, the city has 30 days after being served before any action is needed by the council. He also said the Carlisle District Court is part of a pilot program, which automatically deducts the $10 fee when tickets are entered into the program. He said when an officer writes a ticket, they check a box to indicate if the motorist was indeed wearing a seat belt at the time of the stop.

“It appears we’ve done everything right,” Stuart said.

At this time, no action was taken by the council.

Carlisle School Future Business Leader of America (FBLA) teacher Angela McCallie gave the council an update on the electronic waste recycling drive, which was held on Saturday. The FBLA partnered with the city and Central Arkansas Solid Waste District to sponsor the drive, McCallie said. She said 30 students went door to door to 75 homes in Carlisle from 9 a.m. until noon to collect electronic waste for disposal. According to McCallie, students collected computers, copiers, printers, fax machines, cell phones, chargers, paper shredders, electrical cables, gaming systems, radios, stereos, DVD and VCR players. She said all the waste collected filled a 18 foot trailer.

“It was filled top to bottom, front to back,” McCallie said. “It was packed.”

Mayor Ray Glover said he also had a trailer available for the dispose of televisions.

“We hope to make this an annual event and appreciate the Arkansas Solid Waste District and the city for their support. I think it was a great success.”

McCallie said the FBLA began its recycling campaign with collecting paper at the high school. She said it has been calculated that one ton of paper has been recycled from the high school since the fall.

“We appreciate you, Angela and the kids,” Glover said.

Baseball and softball registration is under way, according to Parks Director Ronnie Ashmore. According to Ashmore, there are currently more than 100 kids signed up to play this year. Ashmore said the deadline for anyone wanting to play is this Friday. Glover asked if there were any children interested in playing, who many not be able to afford the sign up fees. Ashmore said there are not any that he is aware of at this time.

“We don’t want anyone to not show up because they can’t afford it,” Parks and Recreation Chairman Chad Bennett said.

Glover said if there are any children wanting to play baseball or softball but can not afford the sign up fees, to contact Ashmore.

Ashmore also told the council, due to weather, the fields have yet to be worked. He said he is waiting for them to dry up before he gets started.

With the permission of the council, Bill Alexander with Advanced Mosquito Control of Boyle, Miss., which provides aerial mosquito application for the city, came before the council to talk about future services. He spoke about the requirements and regulations for flying the product. According to Stuart, because the contract with Advanced Mosquito Control ran out Dec. 31, the city can not extend the contract and must rebid for the services. Alexander said they plan to rebid the contract.

With more than $400,000 in the street fund for paving, the city prepared to proceed with phase two of paving city streets. Glover said the city plans to pave 50 city blocks in this phase, using 3,000 tons of asphalt. The council unanimously approved to begin taking bids on the street paving. According to Glover, the bids will be good for six months.

City Water and Sewer Engineer Jason Stone with Civil Engineering Associates LLC of Jonesboro provided a list to the council of water and waste water improvements that need to be addressed. Water Superintendent Jeff Ward discussed the priority of each item. According to Ward, the top priority is the replacement of the existing filter media and painting of the pressure valves for $69,500. Ward said the filters have not been replaced since 1993.

The second priority, according to Ward, is the replacement of 18,565 tons of filter media in the existing rock reed filters for the waste-water system, estimated to cost $395,000. Ward said the cost can be cut in half if the council preferred to do half of it. There was an additional cost of $17,500 to rip rap 500 linear feet of existing levee on stabilization lagoon with material from the existing rock reed filters, as a second part of replacing the rock reed filters. Ward said the additional cost is to rent a equipment such as a trackhoe and dump truck and labor to have the current rock put on the pond levels.

The last three items on Stone’s list were to furnish and install 21 electrical actuators, valves and controls for the water plant filters for $195,000; replacement of four chemical pumps for $27,000; and replace electrical starters and phase monitors on wells for $24,000. Ward said these items were more modernizing than necessity. He also asked the council if there was a reason the city was requiring that fluoride be added to the city water supply. He said fluoride is not necessary nor required by the health department. Ward said the city would be saving money if they discontinued the use as a fluoride pump costs $9,000 plus the cost of the chemicals.

Glover said he believed Carlisle residents are proud to have fluoride in the water system.

Glover also told the council of two bids received for installation of 1,000 new solar smart meters. He said he received a bid from HD Supply of Little Rock for $411,000 and a bid from Henard Utility Products of Searcy for $290,000. Glover said Stone informed him that an additional $20,000-$30,000 should be added to the price because of the difference in cost for multiple-size meters.

With the new meters installed, the city would be able to receive meter reading via satellite, rather than the physical labor of reading them. Glover said this would also allow residences with water leaks to be notified prior to receiving a high bill. He said the meters set off an alarm at the office if a resident has water running for more than 24 hours.

Because the city does not currently have the means to fund the projects, Glover said he would like the council to authorize him to speak with bond companies about reissuing the current water bond. According to Glover, the current bond is to mature in 2024. He said because interest rates are lower, the city council extend the bond 12 years and received $700,000 with a lower monthly payment. Glover said if the city does reissue the bond, the new mature date would be 2036.

W.H. Kittler asked if water rates would be effected if the city chose to reissue the bond. Glover said there would be no increase in rates because of the bond.

The council voted unanimously to authorize Glover to pursue information from bond companies concerning reissuing the bond.

Glover gave a small update on the construction of the new police and court building. He said work has begun, but while digging they found muck. He said there have been four foot of dirt removed at the site. Crushed shale will replace the dirt before a foundation is poured.

At 6 p.m. April 1 in the Civic Center, the Carlisle Economic Development Corporation (CEDC) will host a business retention banquet, according to Glover. Glover said every business that has paid occupational taxes in the city, will receive two invitations to the dinner. Those in attendance will hear what the CEDC has done in the past five years, what the plans are for the future and be introduce to some of their economic partners. Keynote speaker for the dinner will be Christopher Crane with the Arkansas Film Commission.

“We want to show them how much we appreciate them for being in Carlisle,” Glover said.

In other business, the council voted unanimously to remove Beth Plafcan from the district court checking account and add Jennifer Wolfe to the account.

Glover also gave his State of the City Address during the meeting. The next council meeting will be at 6 p.m. March 19 in the council room at the Civic Center.

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