Monette council debates parking issues

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Monette City Council debated the necessity of having a new parking ordinance for the second month, before tabling it again, at the regular city council meeting held Monday, Jan. 17.

Mayor Chub Qualls and the council reviewed a proposed parking ordinance regulating parking on city streets. Placement of designated no-parking signs was discussed along with inclusion of entire city of just main thoroughfares.

"I think we can condense this ordinance and get by with just five sections," Alderman Tom Carroll said. "There is too much stuff in here."

"If Chub (Qualls) has to determine where the signs are posted, then this will put a lot of pressure on him and the Chief of Police," Alderman Dick Pace said.

"Do we have a problem?" Alderman Bob Blankenship said. "Can you (Qualls) handle it?"

"Sometimes I can, and sometimes I can't," Qualls said. "We need an ordinance that makes it clear what our regulations are, so the police can enforce it. Over night parking is the problem."

"If the police deem it a hazard then they can ask that a vehicle be moved," Blankenship said.

"In Bay they had to list the names of specific corners or streets in the ordinance for them to be able to enforce the no-parking regulations," Alderman Perry Wood said. "We can't just blanket the town. We have to have the names of streets."

"We can't open ourselves to discrimination," Alderman Billy Watson said.

"The city of Jonesboro has a no-parking ordinance, and they name every street involved, and every stop sign," Police Chief Brian Carmichael said. "Our streets are narrow and it could be dangerous to pull around a parked car."

"If it is a public hazard at night, then it is more of a hazard all during the day," Watson said. "There are two issues to consider, night and day. Things like this are some of the advantages to living in a small town. When people have company they often park in the street because they can't park in the driveway. We have to look at both sides."

"There is one truck that parks on the street 24 hours a day," Qualls said.

"We could open up a can of worms on this," Watson said.

"If the vehicle is a nuisance or a hazard then the police can ticket it," Blankenship said. "I don't like the idea of no-parking signs."

"If a vehicle is blocking the traffic lane, then it is a hazard," Carmichael said.

"We can't allow private parking all the time, but temporarily is understandable," Blankenship said.

The council agreed to table the proposed ordinance again and allow the city attorney time to reword it.

The Sanitation Committee made up of aldermen Perry Wood, Tom Carroll and Billy Watson met to evaluate the Sanitation Department and presented their overview.

"Currently we have two employees, with one paid out of the Sanitation Department and one paid out of the Street Department," Wood said. "This provides a small profit for the Sanitation Department. We would have to raise our fees 25 to 40 percent to be able to pay for another garbage truck. It will be better to continue the way we are now, using the same truck, with the city providing the services. We thought it would be better to just combine the Street and Sanitation Departments and let the Street Department hire a part time employee."

"Bill (Benham) and Ray (Wycoff) were interchangeable and worked full time," Mayor Qualls said.

"We can't pay two salaries at $85,000, when the Sanitation Department only takes in $104,000 yearly," Wood said. "We need to work out a partnership on this."

The council decided to combine the workload of the two departments. Bill Benham will work full time, as usual, with salary being paid out of the Sanitation Department. Benham will serve as Sanitation Department Supervisor. The Street Department Supervisor position will not be filled at this time, until needed. A part-time employee will work 31 hours and be paid out of the Street Department. Contract labor will be negotiated for mowing ballparks in the summer.

"When I gave Bill (Benham) a $1.50 raise last month, I was within my rights but used the wrong words," Qualls said. "He had assumed extra duties, and I thought he deserved the extra pay. He is doing a very good job. I think we can work all of this out."

Other city business:

*Work is on schedule with construction of the Sports Park concession stand, and the roof is expected to be in place next week,

*Addition of street lights on Highway 139 and Highway 18 intersection have been requested, to illuminate an existing dark spot.

*Police Chief Brian Carmichael reported transmission trouble with the 2002 Ford police car, and it will not be driven again.

"It jumps out of gear, when in park," Carmichael said. "We have put the 2007 Chevrolet back in service. It was wrecked in 2007 and is not in good shape. We will have to deal with it until we can get another one."

The council voted to have the 2002 police car repaired.

"Perhaps we can look at getting a new police car next year," Blankenship said.

*Qualls agreed to speak with Ritter Communications about the feasibility of providing service to Nikki B's Restaurant.

*The 2010 Census results are to be made public Feb. 1.

*The AA State Basketball Tournament will be held at BIC Mustang Athletic Complex, in Monette, March 1-5. The school and the City of Monette will share security expenses.

*Fire Chief Bob Blankenship reported the Fire Department is building a brush truck, which is 75 percent complete.

"We have $35,000 invested in it, and it is worth $55,000," Blankenship said. "We also received $32,000 in Act 833 money this year, which is a partnership between Monette and Black Oak Fire Departments.

*The next regularly scheduled council meeting will be 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 21, at city hall.

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