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02-2022 Street Committee Minutes

Street Committee Meeting

February 15, 2022 - 12:30 p.m.

The meeting was called to order at 12:30 p.m.

Present were, Arnold Knox, Director of Streets; Jim Bodenhamer, Susan Stockton, Jennifer Baker and Paige Evans, Committee members.

The Committee reviewed a list of past streets that had been rebuilt, along with the current rebuild projects, and future street rebuild projects.  Arnie told the Committee his plans for future rebuilding include Russell Lane from Breckenridge to Highway 201 North, and the current project, Cooper/Demetree/Louann.  Susan asked how long Russell Lane was, and he told the Committee it is 3,890 feet, and will probably not be completed this year.  

There are four streets scheduled to be rebuilt in 2023, which are Morris St., N. Church St., a small section of 1st St. from College to Cardinal Dr., and 6th St. from College to Bryant.  Arnie reminded everyone this is his schedule but assured them plans may change at any time with other projects coming up.

There are a lot of park projects coming up.  One of the crews working on the drainage at Franklin St. has been moved over to Keller Park to work on the drainage and concrete at the ballfields to save them some money.  He added, the Parks Department will be billed for the bond money they are spending and reminded the Committee, Street monies will not be allocated for the Parks Department.  The same thing is happening at Hickory Park, with the maintenance crew putting in a new parking lot off Dyer St., which is for the new playground that will be built there.  The other crew is working at the Cooper/Demetree/Louann rebuild project.  They are finishing up the drainage on Louann and then will move over to Hickory Park to put in curb.  He said, this spring there will be very little street construction. 

Paige asked if his crews were now caught up on overlays and Arnie said they are.  Arnie said over $600,000 of overlays were completed late last year and that is more than two years' worth of overlays.  He added that amount is normally a three-year amount for overlays and there will be some done this year, approximately $120,000 worth.  The big overlay next year will be when the Water and Sewer Department completes their work on Hickory St.  Dyer St. has been completed and Arnie said Hickory St., Dyer St., 7th St. down to the Police Department, and Elm St. behind City Hall will be done.  He said that overlay will come from the highway grant.  Arnie said he anticipates that money coming in 2023 to cover the cost of those overlays. 

Paige asked if the crack sealing has been completed for the year.  Arnie said, they are catching up and will be completed in the next month.  He said they do 1/3 of the city each year.  Paige asked, since work will be done at the parks, does this mean the streets will be taking a back seat? Arnie said yes.  She then asked what needs to be done to get the crews back on their street work... should another concrete crew be hired to work the parks?  What needs to be done to have the crews continue work on streets like in the past?  Arnie told the Committee he has seen this coming since November, that his crews will be get off the streets.  He had always planned on Hickory Park, when that grant came through doing the curb work.  He said, last summer he combined the crews because of a shortage in labor and what has been completed through December 2021 includes the drainage behind Baxter Lab, which is part of the Russell Lane project.  So, Russell Lane has been started but they are at a place where they can stop, and that crew has gone over to Keller Park putting in concrete.  Arnie said, the grant didn't come through until the end of January and the project needs to be completed by baseball season.  Therefore, with that deadline coming up, all street crews will be pulled from their projects for about two months to get the work completed at Keller Park.   Paige questioned that all the street department will be off the streets and working for the Parks Department?  Arnie said, his maintenance crew is digging out at Hickory Park, a concrete crew is at Keller Park and the other concrete crew is still at LouAnn.  As soon as the maintenance crew is done with the subgrade on the new parking lot at Hickory Park, the crew from LouAnn will move there.  Susan said that is the part that she hates, because LouAnn and Cooper are a mess.  Paige asked what the anticipated completion date was to complete that project, and Arnie said they started on Cooper September 1st, and he said completed early summer, even with the crews pulled off, early summer.   Paige said her concern was with so much parks and development going on, and the need for the Street Department to do what they are doing, she said she doesn't want to see the streets get put back because they are in good shape.   That's when this starts happening.  She asked Arnie what his thoughts were, is the Street Department going to be used for quite a while in the Parks projects?  He told the Committee this is what he is trying very hard to plan out, there is a community center to be done, a lot of street work and parking lot work to be done out there.   He anticipates a crew for quite a while out there, but as that crew is out there, the other crews will be on the streets.  Arnie said he hopes they are out of Hickory and Keller Parks by April, and he isn't going to have all crews out on the streets as he had planned.  Jim asked if he is worried that he will get significantly behind on the streets.  Arnie said his biggest worry right now is when the 5 South project begins.  He said that is the unknown right now, he doesn't know where the highway department is at on it.  Susan said there is money in the Street's budget that will be paying for this extra work.  Paige clarified that Street Department money was not going into the Parks projects.  Susan suggested the Parks Department hire more people because it is their department, they are the ones that have the bond.  Paige asked Arnie if he needs to look at hiring more people for maybe the next two years, so they don't get behind on streets and Arnie won't have to shuffle.  She also said it seems like this is going to be a steady flow.  Arnie said, if he can get a full staff, with the Street Department's budget, and the revenue coming in, he would like to see having three concrete crews.  A third crew would be two operators, 2 finishers and two laborers, along with a foreman.  Paige asked Arnie if he had ever thought about a hiring fair, something to get laborers.  She said she has noticed not only the City, but other businesses in Mountain Home are needing skilled labor.  The pay scale was briefly discussed, and what the starting pay would be for new hires.  Arnie said as 2023 gets closer, he will see what his budget will be like to be able to hire another crew.  Jennifer said would be good to have a crew working for maybe two years out at the aquatic center.  Arnie also told the committee; he has projects out there scheduled to 2029.  There is an average of $1.5 million of road construction yearly, and with a third concrete crew, that would put it over $2 million; more roads can be completed.  Paige said this is needed, and said when she traveled to Florida, and some of the city's there had not planned for growth and traffic, and their streets cannot accommodate the extra traffic.  Susan agreed and said there is so much more traffic in Mountain Home, and it isn't even tourist season.  Arnie also added, if he is to hire an extra crew, their salaries will be added to the salary line item in the budget, which that money will be coming from the line item for capital items. 

So, if he needs a piece of equipment or a truck, the capital line item will be smaller due to the third crew.  Paige told Arnie he is making good decisions on the equipment he needs, and not just going out and purchasing something because the money is there.  Arnie said this fall will be a good time for those discussions. 

Arnie reported to the Committee the cost of the latest snow removal.

He said the department worked about two and a half days on twelve hour shifts for a total cost of $24,740.22.  Paige said they did a great job.

The Street Report for January was reviewed.   As of January 31, the Cooper Street rebuild is at $288,338.44.  The concrete is done on Cooper and Demetree, and the crew is now working on drainage at Louann.   Arnie expects this project to be completed by early summer. 

The cost of the Russell Lane rebuild is currently at $36,327.76.  That crew has completed the drainage on Franklin Street.  That subdivision should have less flooding coming from the lab. 

The snow removal for January included the 6th, and then the 14th, 15th, and 16th.  There wasn't any plowing, just sanding the icy areas.  The total cost was $3,240.17.

Maintenance for the month of January included crack sealing, trimming limbs, etc. totaled $29,592.55.

The Budget Summary was reviewed.  Arnie reported he is going to be watching the computer software line item and may have to adjust that later in the year.  He explained, that since Brooks Jeffrey took over the computer maintenance, that cost has increased substantially. 

Jim asked about the bid opening that is coming up.  Arnie said there is a bid opening on the 24th for culvert pipe and said the last bid opening in November had the culvert cost double in price.

The Committee agreed that the Parks projects and the upcoming Highway 5 South project need to be discussed and planned.  Arnie said when October gets here, he will need more concrete finishers to spread them out amongst the projects and said he hopes some of the current laborers will have gone to finishers. 

Paige told Arnie, going back to the computer software line item, the 2022 Budget, she said had just been received and they had about 15 minutes to review the final numbers.   She explained, when she went home, she was able to review it more, and saw the computer software and software maintenance, since they were now combined.  She said she met with the Mayor because there is such a large increase in numbers over the last two years for both of those items, and not just in the Street Department, but all the Departments.  Parks and Recreation was crazy how much.  So, going back, from 2018 to 2022, there's an increase in computer expenses, which is what was known when all the computers were purchased.  She said when the paperwork was received from Brooks Jeffrey, the fine print showed computer maintenance and they were not told that.    Then, Paige said, there are their charges and that is something of a major concern.  She added, the mayor is having Marshella look that over.  Arnie said the Street Department had Yelcot for their monthly computer maintenance at a cost of $424 with tax.  The month of January, Brooks Jeffrey was paid $1,500.  He said, he didn't know where this was going per month, and he needs to watch that.  Paige said she raised a flag two weeks ago and Arnie told the Committee that they charge for every phone call.  He added, when Yelcot did our maintenance, it was within reason.  Some months we had no issues and never had a phone call.  But there was a time when they worked on our plotter and that was a two-day ordeal for them.  They didn't charge us any extra over the $424 monthly cost.

Paige asked since this contract was renewed in January by the Mayor, is this something he does not have to bring to the city council.  She remembers when the computers were purchased, she understood that it was for the year.  Arnie said anything over $20,000 should be bid out.  Paige said this is frivolous spending and I'm not for that.  We bought the computers from them and that was great, everybody was updated with all the great technology, and we are spending something like that.  Arnie said he needs a couple more months of information before he says this is a concern.  The Committee agreed.  He added, there were some sick people and they had to link computers to laptops so that may be just a once in a quarter type thing and it can average out.  But, he said, if this is going to be $1,500 a month, he is going to have to look at it more.  Paige said you can see a major difference between the 2020 and 2022 Budget for the computer and maintenance line items.  She added, it needs to be looked at and if it's a yearly contract and it is over $20,000 it should go before the Council.  Paige also said there is a gray area there, because when the insurance was chosen, the Mayor was able to do that with approval of the Council, but he has the ability to make a contract, an executive decision, and that is one of the largest budget items.  That is something, she said, that she has shared with him and that should be in the Councils hands, it is too much money for one person.  Arnie told the Committee about a purchase that former Mayor David Osmon made.  He said the telephone system was purchased for City Hall, with the cost just under $20,000 but when the tax had been added, it went over $20,000.  He said, since it went over, it had to go back and then bid out.

The meeting adjourned at 1:10 p.m.

Wide view of downtown Mountain Home