Redirecting funds between the city and parks and recreation sparked sometimes-heated discussion at the Cabot City Council agenda meeting on Monday, but did not stop sending the matter to the April 16 council meeting for ratification.
Aldermen Kevin Davis, Doug Warner, Damon Bivens, Norma Naquin, Rick Prentice, Ed Long, Ann Gilliam and Ron Waymack attended the meeting.
Other matters at the meeting included included annual commission reports, federal grants for sidewalks, recommendation to establish a city jail fee, and amendment to an existing city planning contract.
Cabot Water and Wastewater Commission chairman Gary Walker presented the annual report of operation, noting Cabot’s continuing growth, though at a slower pace. Projections are that the city’s population will reach 28,000 by about 2020, he said.
Preparing for that number of people means, “Our job is to stay ahead of the curve, not behind it,” Walker said.
The 2017 operating budget topped $5 million, with more than 11,500 customers using about 2.5 million gallons of water daily, Walker said. Projections are the usage will reach 4.5 million gallons daily by 2020, Walker said.
By 2023, the city will no longer use any groundwater and will use all surface water, Walker said.
Among the figures quoted by Walker are that there are about 270 miles of water line and about 190 miles of sewer main. Maintaining and expanding both systems, while meeting environmental requirements and operating costs requirements is a continuous job, he said.
Planning Commission chairman James Reid told of work by the commission to make “Small incremental changes” to revamp city planning while managing growth. With Cabot now the 19th largest city in Arkansas, “We are no longer a small town, we are a big city,” Reid said.
Among the work is finalization of the Highway 321 Access Management Plan, an interactive zoning map, and a comprehensive plan map, which are important when drawing businesses to the area, and how the area is built up, Reid said.
Revitalizing the downtown area is also part of that planning, he said.
Mayor Bill Cypert told of the Transportation Alternative Program (TAPP) Grant to be considered to build sidewalks, under the Safe Routes to School program, for the area by Central Elementary School. The $50,000 grant must be matched with $12,500 from the city, Cypert said.
Central has more people walking to school than any other school, Cypert said of the area. With limited Pond Street access, that puts a large number of vehicles on the same road being used by pedestrians, making it “a dangerous mixture,” he said. The initial request was for $500,000 to do all sidewalks in the area, but that was not granted. So, the city will do it in phases using smaller grants, with the first being From Ivanhoe, west to Kerr Station Road, the second will bed from Ivanhoe, east to Pine Street; the third Barnwell Street from Pond to Oak Meadows.
The grant was recommended for city council action.
Also approved was an ordinance to move funds paid to the city for shale for the north interchange, excavated from the Lonoke County Regional Park area. The park area is city property.
The ordinance would allow funds in the checking account established for the sales, now totaling $160,705.97, to be divided with $153,032 to the city street fund to cover the cost of lighting the North Interchange, with the remainder going to Parks and Recreation.
The city would agree to pay about $6,400 per month, for 24 months, to the Parks and Recreation Commission, with funds from future shale sales going directly to Parks and Recreation.
The ordinance would also amend the 2018 city general fund budget for the $51,000 in monthly payments.
Also approved for council action, was a recommendation by Chief of Police Jackie Davis that the city establish a $20 fee, to be levied on convictions in district court, to defray the cost of operating the jail.
A proposed amendment to the city animal control ordinance, to change language concerning pit bull terriers was delayed at the request of Animal Control director Mike Wheeler. Long said the matter would be reconsidered either at the city council meeting, or the next agenda meeting.
Wheeler told of the recent drive-through pet vaccination clinic; “It was our best, yet … We were busy the entire time.”
There were about 2,075 vaccinations given, which is about 300 more than last time, which was about 300 more than the time before that, Wheeler said.
Parks and Recreation director Travis Young reported that more than 2,000 youth have signed up for spring sports programs.
“That is more than 250 than we had last year … we have more than 2,000 kids participating in spring sports, that is a remarkable feat in itself,” he said. Also, community center membership is about 4,000, up from about 1,100 before the remodeling of the center, Young said.
Matters at agenda meetings are either informational or for recommendation for action at an upcoming City Council meeting. The next Cabot City Council meeting is 7 p.m., April 16.