Street Committee Meeting
October 8, 2019 - 12:30 p.m.
Present were Arnold Knox, Director; Don Webb, Jim Bodenhamer and Jim Whalen, Committee Members.
Arnie opened the meeting with a discussion of the new traffic light monitor cabinet that had been installed last week at Highways 62 and 5 North. He explained it was the first of the City's 24 traffic lights he is planning on updating. On the overhead projector, he showed a map of the City with the first updated, installed cabinet, which shows a graph of voltage, temperature, and other important information going on in the cabinet. He explained the program will notify in a text message to Arnie and his Assistant if there is a malfunction with a specific traffic light. There is also setting the fire department can program in, when they are going to a fire call they will have the ability to adjust traffic light cycling to all green on toward their destination. He added, this past Saturday night the storm that came through the City, set the traffic light to flash mode and both Arnie and his Assistant received the text message notifying them. Normally, the police department will notify Arnie and then a trip to the location and repair will be done. Saturday night's episode was repaired before the police department ever called. He has four more cabinets budgeted for next year and would like to get them installed at the Highway 62 traffic lights. If the program works well, he will budget the following years for more cabinets until all traffic lights have been upgraded. He told the Committee if his budget will allow it this year, he would like to start installing cameras on the traffic lights.
The Street Report for September 2019 was reviewed. Arnie reported with a total cost to date of $237,949.43, the Western Hills Way rebuild project is ready to pave. Jim W commented that this is well under budget, but Arnie reported the most expensive part is coming up and that will be paving. He said sealed bids will be opened this Thursday, October 10, and he will order the asphalt following that. He said it would be approximately $80,000 to $100,000 of asphalt for that street. He added, it's not as underbudget as it looks. Currently that crew is working on putting in sidewalks. The last few days they have been over at Southern Meadows repairing a 50' section of Berry Lane that's been ponding since it was overlaid last year. They are putting in a section of concrete curb and getting the street to drain properly. When they are done at Western Hills Way, they will be going over to Northern Hills at the bottom of Iowa Street to put in a concrete channel.
The crew working on Long Street behind the hospital are finishing up with sidewalks. It's ready for asphalt, and when completed, Long Street will be 3 lanes with sidewalk on both sides. The current cost of the Long Street project is at $181,701.13. This crew will then continue to Burnett Drive, expanding that street to three lanes up to Beard Street with sidewalk on both sides as well.
The Maintenance crew has started a bank stabilization project at Hicks Creek near Meadowbrook Drive. The creek had been eroding an area of the bank getting close enough to a power pole and the sewer line. Arnie said they are putting about 5 feet of bank with fiber and large rock to control the erosion, similar to the restoration done on Fairgrounds Drive near ASU. He said this is a grant, paid for in part by USDA. We are keeping track of materials, labor and equipment costs, which 75% of that will be reimbursed to the City. This is the first grant the City received from USDA, which Amon applied for about 3 1/2 years ago through the conservation office. He added this bank has been eroding further since then, waiting for the application process to go on. He reported the dirt is going in now with the fabric going in over that, followed by the large rock placement to keep that bank where it needs to be. This crew, when done with the creek, will be going over to McCabe Park, working on the trails. The Mayor requested Arnie to use the residents of Care Center Ministries for some light work that can be done over there. He said the Parks Department has been utilizing them for their weed trimming and mowing. They need to be working in groups of two to four, with supervision and Arnie feels they will work best on the trails at McCabe Park. Jim W commented that the hospital uses them on their grounds, and they work very well. The Maintenance crew is also going to be working on better drainage at the soccer fields. He said the calico rock inmates were there recently cleaning out the lower end of the drainage to the soccer fields and we are going to deepen some of that water ditch into there.
Prior to the current budget discussion, Arnie brought up the request for a 'do not litter' sign to be placed on Russell Lane behind Baxter Lab. He said the caller reported drivers throwing their trash out on the first curve of Russell and she would like the Street Department to put one up. Arnie told the Committee he was going to leave it up to them whether a sign needs to be put up. Jim B asked if there were any signs like the one requested in any other part of the City. Arnie said, no there wasn't, it would be a first. Jim W said he didn't recommend putting one up, Jim B asked Arnie what his recommendation was. Arnie told the Committee he recommends keeping the least number of signs out as possible. He said after the purchase, labor and other materials to install it, it'll be approximately a $300 sign. He added, if you put up so many signs, they won't paid attention to any of them. Don agreed and said, you put up a stop sign and they don't pay any attention to that, either. The Committee agreed there would be no sign put up at Russell Lane.
The Budget Summary was reviewed and discussed along with a budget report from the Treasurer. Arnie reported there is a meeting for the proposed 2020 budget on Thursday night. Arnie reported the Revenues were approximately 3% ahead on State Turnback, which is the highway bond, and about 1.8% up from last year on Sales Tax. He said the department is in solid shape headed into the end of the year. There was more discussion about the total carryover compared to 2019 carryover. Arnie reported to the Committee he projected the revenues on what was taken in this year. He said the 2020 projected revenues, which includes County and State Turnback is basically what he brought in last year. He said it should be about 4% or so under what will actually come in. Arnie said the County Turnback last year out of the 2018 total was $343,000 and he reported that is what he will put in for next year. He said sales tax is up about 1.8% this year and he anticipates it to be 3.5% next year. He added, Little Rock economists anticipate a 3.65% increase in sales tax for next year. Jim W asked Arnie where the department was on the state highway bond issue. Arnie told the Committee the sales tax that comes to the Street Department is about $250,000 to $300,000 annually. He added, that amount is approximately what is spent overlaying the City streets every year. Also reported, these bonds are still active until 2023 at which time that amount will drop off. There was more discussion about sales tax revenue, the monthly reimbursement to the State for the sales tax given in error, and the proposed 2020 budget. He told the Committee if they have any questions on the expenses or revenues to let him know and he can meet with them on it. Arnie discussed with the Committee his request for next year, $130,000 for the Traffic Control line item, for new and improved and upgraded traffic signals. He'd like to see how far that will go and if everything works as planned he can then upgrade the following years.
He spoke to the Committee about what equipment he would like to purchase next year. He is requesting another two new backhoes. He reported the 2 older backhoes, 2017 New Holland's sold last weekend at Walker's equipment auction for $40,000 each. He'd like new dump truck, in addition to the one being purchased this year. Arnie said he would like to start cycling the older dump trucks out with new ones; a new trackhoe, due to the two trackhoes that we currently own have the same issues, sloppy gears in a turntable, the gears have weak metal in the Hyundai trackhoes. He said he would also like to get another wheel loader. The department had two older ones, and one, which was inoperable, was sold at auction for basically scrap price this past spring and was not replaced. He said he normally runs two wheel-loaders during snow removal. He is down to one and is requesting a purchase for the needed second one. Instead of purchasing three new half-ton pickups next year, he is requesting a purchase of just two. And, finally he would like to purchase a used one-ton truck and start cycling out the old one-tons the department currently has. The department has 4 one-ton work trucks now, and they are in the shop quite often. He would like to start modernizing them as well. The new one-ton work truck, which is budgeted for under $40,000 depending on where the bids come in at. Jim W asked Arnie to describe a 'hydro excavator'. Arnie told the Committee this has been on and off the budget for the last couple of years. He said if he could find a good used one, he would like to try and get it. Jim asked what it does, and Arnie said it is basically a pothole machine. It utilizes jet water spray and has a vacuum, like the Water Department's vactor truck, except it's smaller and is mounted on a trailer with about a 1,000-gallon water tank and then the vacuum machine. It shoots water, stirs up the dirt and sucks it up. For example, if there is a high-pressure gas line marked where there is work to be done, rather than taking a backhoe and digging until the line is found, this machine would be used to shoot water down and clean out the debris for the exact location of the pipe to be found without breaking a line digging. We will be using high pressure water to dig out. He added, it's a safe way to find the utilities, and said he really could have used it when Buzzard Roost Cutoff was being rebuilt, it seemed gas lines were being broken about every other day out there. Since then, the gas lines have been a lot different shape and outside of our work area. Jim B asked Arnie if he still was planning on a passenger van because he had $35,000 budgeted for this year and next year. Arnie said he said he has to write up bid specifications for it, and even bids were opened, and it was ordered this year, the van wouldn't come in until next year. Jim W mentioned the hospital just purchased a used passenger van from a Springfield, Missouri hospital at a cost of $32,000. Jim B asked if this was to transport inmates to and from Calico Rock. Arnie said, yes, it was. He said the state bid for a ½ ton passenger van is about $25,000. He added, the state bid on the ¾ ton passenger van, which has a little bit of a heavier suspension, which he would like, would be approximately $30,000 with the fleet and government discount. He said the biggest item, the Computer Operating Expense line item is at $13,315 and the budgeted amount is $16,000. He discussed with the Committee that it's hard to budget the money that other people are spending. Out of the $13,000 originally budgeted for that line item, he reported, the Street Department spent $8,000 of it. A lot of it is the General Fund which we don't have control over, we just pay 18% of whatever they spend. That's the hard part, Arnie said, and added, come December, he may have to go in clean it up with another line item if it goes over. Jim B asked if there were any other line items getting close. Arnie said no, that was it and he anticipated coming in under budget and said he generally looks at the Road Construction line item throughout the year and shows how much cash flow he has and where it will all go. He explained, what ever is left over in the line items at the end of the year will go into Road Construction for next year.
Jim B asked how the health insurance morale was at the department. Arnie said it's bordering on horrible due to the status of the spouse. He said there are a lot of numbers thrown out there, and added, his department and Alma's department are ½ of the people the City employs. He said both of those departments can handle the increase. What he doesn't know if the other ½ of the employees of General Fund, which includes police, fire, parks, building and city hall can afford it.
He reminded the Committee he is still short for a full staff. If there is snow removal to be done, it may take a little bit longer than normal because of this, but the city streets will be cleaned.
The meeting adjourned at 1:15 p.m.