Present at today's meeting were Arnold Knox, Director of Streets, Don Webb, Jim Bodenhamer and Jim Whalen, Committee members.
The meeting began with continuous video clips of traffic from the three locations that have been set up with camera monitors. These are located at Highway 62/5 North/1st Street, Highway 62 and Cardinal Drive, and, Highway 62 and Club Boulevard. Arnie reported he would eventually like to connect to I-Drive App, for anybody to check traffic throughout the City from their computer or phone. Jim W. asked Arnie if any of these cameras are storing information. Arnie told the Committee, no, they do not store any information, that he would be in court more days than he needed to be. He added, this is something for Carry, and the monitors inside the cabinets show how the lights cycle and when and this is what he is concerned about.
The Street Report for March 2020 was reviewed. Arnie told the Committee that with the virus affecting so many people, he had ordered two half-ton pickup trucks and a one-ton truck in January. One half-ton pickup and the one-ton truck were delivered last week. There is still another half-ton pickup to be delivered. The one-ton will be sent to Cabot on Friday to have a work bed installed on it. There is still one more half-ton pickup to be delivered sometime in the near future. He showed the Committee pictures of the new trucks and additional equipment that had been purchased in the past month. He explained to the Committee, when the COVID 19 started hitting, and everything started shutting down, he said normally, orders for the wheel loader and excavator take six months or something like that and he anticipated July or August to have delivery on them. He added, when things started shutting down, everyone was trying to eliminate their inventory. He said, all of these came in within the last 30 days. Jim W said this was amazing. He then told the Committee this will be the end of his equipment purchases through the end of the year. There are a few more things in the Budget, but he is going to wait on purchasing them. Jim W. asked Arnie what the long-term life was on an excavator and Arnie said this excavator will last long after his tenure ends.
Jim B had asked about the financial status of the Department. Arnie reported, as far as financial wise and the future plans for the Street Department, and with the sales tax receipts behind about two months, he also said there is an 8-10% growth since last years' sales tax so far; he anticipates June will show what happened in March. He added, financial wise, there was $1.4 million carried over from last year, for example, if only half of the sales tax was received this year, he said he can maintain business as usual, with expenditures and overlays, for approximately 14 or 15 months. He said, that is the beauty of having a $1.4 million carry over, it's basically 1/3 of the entire revenue for the year. And, he said, he will probably wait on overlays until he sees what June and July sales taxes are. He said there are a few more capital items he has budgeted but is going to hold off on them.
Jim B asked which department had loaned General Fund money a while back. Arnie said the Street Department was who loaned General money for sales tax that had to be paid back to the state, approximately $52,000 per month for 12 months. He said the mistake was made by the state revenue department and both General and the Street Department had to pay the sales tax money back. General Fund did not have the money so Street loaned the $402,000 to be paid back with interest before the end of the year. He added, Roger Morgan had said there are other avenues they could have gone, but this was a last-minute decision. Jim B said he was just wondering, because he wants to see everybody still able to work and on the payroll. Arnie added, his department will be full staff.
Jim B asked Arnie what the other capital items were he had budgeted for. Arnie said there is a dump truck, which is about $100,000 a hydro excavator, he said there was about $200,000 of items. He said, either way, if sales taxes were cut 50%, it would be about an $800,000 cut to the budget.
The Street Report for March 2020 was reviewed.
The rain this weekend made a mess of the base on Burnett Drive and while a few of the guys were out on Sunday night cleaning up some trees, they went over to that project and fixed the base, so the street was passable. The crew that is working on Burnett Drive has made it to the intersection with Bucher Drive. As of March 31, the cost to Burnett Drive is $188,513.94. Once this intersection is done, they will move over to Medical Plaza Drive, where they will begin a complete rebuild of that street from Hospital Drive to Buttercup. Once Medical Plaza Drive is completed, the crew will then go back to finish Burnett Drive to Beard Drive. Arnie said the hospital has got smaller drainage pipe running from their parking lots and it ends up on the surface at Medical Plaza near the prosthetic clinic and down to Burnett's clinic. He said, drainage has been a nightmare on that street, and we are completely rebuilding it to get their water running underground. Arnie told the Committee the street had been planned for a rebuild later, but he decided to go ahead since the hospital was planning the surgical center and other buildings in that area.
The other construction crew has completed their concrete work at Clysta Willett Park. They were awarded a 50/50 Grant and when our work was completed, an actual cost of $62,266.46 had been spent on labor, materials and equipment use. The Parks Department was billed for approximately $56,000 to reimburse the Street Department. That is the amount that was allocated for the Street Department work to be done. Arnie added, FEMA costs were billed for submittal of the Grant reimbursement and that total cost was approximately $97,000.
The same crew moved over to Hickory Park to put in a small stage and some electrical work. As of March 31, the cost to date is $33,425.06. Jim B asked where the playground equipment was moved to and Arnie told the Committee we had moved the swing set and merry go round and had heard Billy D was going to put them in another area at the park. Don asked where the money is coming from to build the stage. Arnie told everyone the money is coming from Maintenance fund, the Street Department has funded it so far, and are supposed to be getting reimbursed from General Fund or wherever the mayor has the money for it. Don asked if this was an executive decision; Arnie said, yes, the Mayor directed the Street Department to build the stage. He added, it is my understanding there are some donations to fund this and we will be reimbursed. Jim W said there was a major donor along with other donations and it will be paid back over time. Arnie said the order had been placed for the shell that covers the stage, and he wasn't involved in any of that.
Maintenance for the month of March totaled $39,276.60. That crew is spraying weeds, repairing the tennis courts at Hickory Park, basic clean up like on Easter day, cleaning drainage inlets and the crack sealer is done for the year. That's been cleaned out until cold weather again.
The Budget Summary was reviewed, and Arnie said it looked good. The only two items were the Wheel Loader purchased came in a little over what was anticipated on the bid, but the Excavator came in about $50,000 less. Probably the first meeting in May or so he will be putting in a budget adjustment. Overall, we are under budget he said.
Arnie told the Committee everything is going well, and with the COVID 19 virus, he is taking everybody's temperature first thing in the morning. He also told the Committee as far as the traffic light camera system, he would like to get with the highway department to get it projected into their system, but since this virus has hit, he said the highway department has shifted gears and cut their crew way back and are limiting their hours. He said not so much the higher-ups, but the local maintenance office has gone from 12 to just 4 people at their location.
There was discussion in reference to money being awarded to Cities throughout the state, but Mountain Home was not going to receive any. Arnie said Northwest Arkansas is getting a big portion of it, and it may have to do with the public housing. Jim W said that is a heck of a way to measure that. There was more discussion about state tax dollar receipts. Arnie said we will just see where it all goes.