The Walnut Ridge City Council voted to move forward with street overlay work in 2020 by advertising for bids.

Money will be allocated at a later date, with up to $200,000 being slated for use for resurfacing.

“We’ve held up on the sales tax because people are shopping local,” Snapp said. “At this point we can fund this much, and possibly more.”

He noted that this will be the sixth consecutive year the city has completed an overlay project. The Street Department and Police Department will give input to help prioritize which streets need to be done.

“We want to keep the city moving forward,” Snapp said.

The City of Walnut Ridge is still looking at options to go solar to provide electricity for all city-owned buildings, as well as facilities at the Walnut Ridge Airport and City Water Works facilities.

Snapp said the sewer plant is the only building that would not be included because energy costs are already cheaper because of the volume of electricity used.

He said if Entergy is approved by the Public Service Commission for the next round of solar expansion, the city would like to go that route.

“There would be no upfront costs, and service could start as early as September,” Snapp said.

He said if the Entergy option does not work out, the committee is leaning toward purchasing a system, rather than doing a long-term lease.

“We could save hundreds of thousands of dollars over the next 18 years,” Snapp said.

He noted that Entergy’s plan is to use half of its solar-power system for municipalities, schools and such, and the other half to provide energy for general consumption to potentially lower bills for its customers.

The council also gave its support for an ordinance changing the cost for non-residential sanitation collection, effective Jan. 1. The cost will go from $12 per unit per month for the first cart and $9 for additional carts to a flat fee of $15 per cart, per month.

Snapp said the Sanitation Department will also stop using rear-load dumpsters in September. Customers who have this type of dumpster should receive notice from the city.

He said the truck that is used for the rear-load dumpsters does not get full from the route, which causes the city to either have to leave the trash in the truck for an extended period of time or dump the truck when it is not full.

Sanitation Committee member Wendell Jones said the tipping fees, which have been on the rise, is applied to the size of the truck, not how much is in the truck.

“They charge for what the truck holds, not how much you dump,” he said.

Council members approved the ordinance on first reading. It will require two more readings to become official.

The council also discussed concerns about lawn and tree debris pickup, and voted to have the Street and Sanitation Committee look at the issues and bring a recommendation back to the full council.

Snapp told the council that there are some ongoing issues, including misuse of the service. If a professional service does work in the city limits, the company is responsible for removing the debris.

In addition, it is a challenge for personnel to keep up with the demand, since the pickup is completed between other tasks.

The mayor reminded residents that all leaves, grass and small debris must be bagged for pickup. Branches are to be piled with the butt end toward the road so workers can easily grab them to feed them into the chipper.

Limbs should be no more than approximately four to six inches in diameter and residents must call City Hall to arrange a pickup.

Snapp said when residents have a tree topped and then try to have the city pick up everything that was cut off the tree, he does not think it is fair to use tax dollars.

“We need some way to control it if we are going to continue to provide the service,” he said. “We need some limitations.”

Some ideas discussed were limiting the size of debris that could be removed, limiting the number of times free pickup could be available in a year and encouraging people to either get a burn permit or start their own compost pile.

Snapp clarified that the city does not want to be in the lawn debris removal business. If it was determined that residents should be charged for pickup or when limitations have been surpassed, he said private business should fill the gap.

There are people who do this for a living,” he said.

Mayor Snapp told council members Monday night that plans for the wastewater treatment plant are being adjusted to bring the project in line with the original budget.

“We had projected a cost of $5 million to build the facility,” Snapp said. “After all the bells and whistles were added, it came in higher.”

He said the city is working with the engineer and others to look at ways to trim the costs and now has the cost to within $600,000 of where it needs to be.

“It looks like we will come in on budget or mighty close,” Snapp said.

Council members approved a resolution establishing a roadway signage policy based on federal guidelines.

As part of the policy, signage such as “Children at Play,” will not be allowed in the public right-of-way. Residents can place signs on their property, as long as it is 15 feet from the curb or the edge of the asphalt.

The city reserves the right to remove any non-compliant signage or to allow existing signage to remain. Snapp said the city won’t necessarily have to remove existing signs that don’t meet requirements, but that the signs would not be replaced in the future.

The policy also states that a resident may submit a written request to City Hall for new signage. If the request is approved, the citizen will be responsible for the cost of the sign.

In other business:

a resolution to close a portion of Corbet Street was approved. No one came to discuss the closing during a public hearing held prior to Monday night’s meeting. It was noted that a 10 foot utility easement remains, but that only underground utilities to connect to property in the city of Walnut Ridge would be allowed on the easement. An ordinance regarding the abandonment of the road will be on next month’s agenda.

an update regarding painting the water tower was shared. The tower will be repainted with the same hot air balloon design. Cunningham Tanks of Joplin, Mo., is slated to do the work, which is expected to start in late August.

Snapp said two tornado sirens that are not working properly and are no longer needed by the city after the installation of a new siren are being offered to smaller area communities. He said if a community decides they want a siren, the sirens will be offered at no charge, but the receiving community will be responsible for the cost to take the siren down and put it back up, as well as any repairs.

council members were informed that the city’s finances are in good shape. “The city coffers are holding up well during this crisis,” Snapp said.

Snapp reported that the last payment on the building that houses Jumpstart Ministry’s animal shelter, which also serves as the city’s animal control facility, was made in July. Jumpstart manages the facility in exchange for using the building for its shelter, as well. Snapp noted that the city pays the building expenses, but also receives some funds from other cities in the county that utilize the facility.

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