The Maumelle City Council had a light agenda this week, but there was a great deal of time spent discussing the city’s finances.
To begin the meeting though, the Maumelle Youth Council presented two awards at the beginning of the meeting Monday night. Kylie Wall received the Peyton Award and she was selected by a panel of residents based on her outstanding achievements in school and the community. Lauren Elliott was recognized as the recipient of the Peyton Scholarship which will go towards her future college education. Congrats to both young ladies!
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Mayor Norris named Terry Gibson as Maumelle’s Employee of the Month for December of 2020. Terry started with the city in the spring of 2010 in our sanitation department and is now one of the leads in our Public Works and Sanitation Department. June 8th, 2021 is Terry Gibson day in the city of Maumelle!
Maumelle’s Director of Finance presented the city’s finances through April of 2021. While the city’s revenues continue to look good and our expenses are essentially in line with our budget, our finance department has been hard at work clearing up a backlog of bank reconciliations dating back to 2018. For a number of years, the city has been far behind in getting our annual audits completed. Thanks to the work of our new Finance Director and staff, they have greatly improved the efficiency of our Finance department and are clearing up these past due reconciliations. The 2018 audit has been largely completed and work on the 2019 audit has already begun. Once the 2019 audit is completed later this year, the finance department will roll right into the 2020 audit. This is a significant accomplishment for this department to get things turned around and have three years of audits completed this year. Once we move into 2022, finance should be completely caught up and will be able to immediately begin the 2021 audit once we close the books on this year.
Under old business, the council unanimously approved ordinance 1031 which brings our referendum process in line with state law. I’ve previously mentioned how our current city code regarding our initiative and referendum process wasn’t valid since it didn’t comply with state law. Under the new city ordinance, referendums and initiatives can be brought by residents if they gather signatures totaling 15% of the votes cast in the last mayoral election.
The council voted on an ordinance (1033) to change the land use of a parcel of property along Club Manor and Carnahan from Institutional to Commercial. This ordinance failed 3-5 (I voted “yes”) and I was a bit surprised by the vote. Under our city’s land use rules, the current land use of Institutional only allows for: “community facilities such as fire stations, city hall, community centers, schools, parks, churches and similar uses.” This parcel of property is on one of our main commercial roads in Maumelle so the Institutional designation is holding back this property from being developed. It makes sense for this property’s land use to be Commercial and that is why I voted for the change, but I believe the other council members voted against it due to the property owner’s desire to build 24 high-end townhomes on the property. There was discussion at a previous meeting about wanting to see this property used for commercial development purposes. However, with this failing, the property stays Institutional which doesn’t do the property owner or the city any good since that site has been restricted to the narrow uses I listed above. If the council wanted to see this property developed commercially, this ordinance (1033) should have been approved and then on the next ordinance (1034) the council members could have voted against the zoning change from Primary Commercial Development (PCD) to Commercial-2 which would have allowed townhomes to be built. By voting FOR the first ordinance, and AGAINST the second ordinance, that would have at least changed the land use to Commercial so that the property owner could have tried to sell or develop it commercially. As it stands now, the property owner is left with a parcel of property with a land use of Institutional even though it is along a street that is entirely Commercial. I think we did this property a disservice last night by not approving it to have a land use of Commercial. The council could have later rejected the attempt to build townhomes on the site, but with the failure of this land use change, the site has been severely restricted from developing anything that will bring commercial value to the city.
Under new business, the council interviewed three applicants for a vacancy on the Planning Commission. This appointment will fill a remaining term that will end in January of 2022. Darrell Stephens was selected to fill this position. Thanks to the other two applicants (Robert Bateman and Justin Mallett) who were highly qualified to serve. I hope they will consider applying again for future appointments to the Planning Commission.
Lastly, the council approved a resolution to dispose of two police cars that have outlived their usefulness to the city. These vehicles will now be auctioned off and removed from the city’s fleet.
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