Monroe City Council Minutes

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District #1
Dr. Raymond A. Armstrong
Vice Chairman                                       

District #2                                                   
Mrs. Gretchen H. Ezernack 

District #3
Ms. Betty Blakes

District #4                                                   
Mr. Kenneth Wilson 

District #5
Mr. Eddie Clark
Chairman

City Council
CITY OF MONROE, LOUISIANA
Post Office Box 123
Monroe, Louisiana 71210-0123
Phone (318) 329-2252
Fax (318) 329-3416

Minutes for Council Meeting
December 10, 2013
6:00 p.m.

There was a legal and regular session of the City Council of the City of Monroe, Louisiana held this date at the Council's regular meeting place, the Council Chamber, City Hall Building, Monroe, Louisiana.

The Honorable Eddie Clark, Chairman, called the meeting to order. He then asked the clerk to call the roll.

There were present: Council members Dr. Armstrong, Ms. Blakes, Mr. Wilson and Mr. Clark.

There was absent: Mrs. Ezernack

Chairman Clark announced that a quorum was present and that the Invocation and the Pledge of Allegiance would be led by Mr. Clark’s designee, Rev. Cliff Thomas.

Chairman Clark proceeded by acknowledging the time for special announcements and/or communications.

Dr. Armstrong was pleased to see Mr. Barnes back to work after his surgery.  He said he is looking forward to the City of Monroe’s Duck Commander Christmas.  He read a Christmas Card with a special message to everyone.

Ms. Blakes thanked everyone for coming out and asked those who are traveling for the holidays to be careful when driving.  Also, Ms. Blakes said Best Buy on Renwick would be giving away coats for kids at Christmas as well as toys and a meal.  If you need a coat before Christmas, you can go to Best Buy and Mr. Blockston will accommodate you.  She also announced that she would be assisting with a presentation to the citizens in her district as well as the entire community to learn more about the Affordable Care Act at Alfred Blakes Cultural Arts Center on Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 6:00 p.m.

Mr. Wilson thanked the citizens of District 4 and the public for coming out tonight.  His nonprofit PEEPS had their first musical and he thanked the committee and participants for putting on the musical and providing food and Christmas gifts for the kids throughout the City.  He thanked all of the nonprofits in the City/Parish for what they have done for the community during Thanksgiving and are doing  for Christmas.  He thanked the Mayor, Administration and colleagues for approving the Let’s Talk Trash Brochure because the citizens are pleased with the brochure and they were grateful to have the illegal dumping telephone numbers that citizens can call.  An issue that the City have been  dealing with for several months is the Texaco station on South 2nd , it is empty and there are people sleeping in the building and there are about 150 tires, it looks really bad because South 2nd is our Forsythe and we have a new slogan of Renewing the Pride on the Southside. We need to put the pride back on the Southside.  After listening to the concerns of citizens and speaking with Chief Holmes on December 17th, 6:00 pm there will be a community meeting at the Public Safety Center.  There have been break-ins on the Southside with burglars traveling through the alleys.  We have talked about putting lights in the alleys because there are utilities in the alleys.

Mayor Mayo thanked all involved in coming out to events that marked the beginning of the holiday season, JS Clark Magnet school for music in addition to Ms. Monroe, Ms. Pride of Monroe and Ms. Teen being available with a lot of events going on.  This Saturday, Duck Commander will take place and people from throughout the country will be here and it will be a huge economic boost for the community.

Mr. Clark wished everyone happy holidays and he referenced the date change of the next Council Meeting which will be Monday, December 23, 2013 at 6:00 pm.  He stated that he has invited  Representative Marcus Hunter to the next Council Meeting to explain to us what he is doing in Baton Rouge and how it ties together with what is going on in the City of Monroe; efforts are underway to try and raise the minimum wage to $10.00 for the City of Monroe only. His efforts have been tremendous and we have been working tirelessly trying to formulate and look forward to a deal being generated in Baton Rouge really soon to affect the City of Monroe.  He also thanked Rep. Hunter for securing funding for Benoit Baseball Field near Wossman High School for $100,000 or so for new dugouts. Restrooms and  however the money can be stretched and whatever else Representative Hunter can do we would greatly appreciate it.    
Upon motion of Dr. Armstrong, seconded by Ms. Blakes the minutes of the Legal and Regular Session of November 26, 2013 were unanimously approved as presented. (There were no comments from the public).

PRESENTATIONS:  NONE

PUBLIC HEARINGS:  NONE

PROPOSED CONDEMNATIONS:  NONE

ACCEPTANCE OR REJECTION OF BIDS:  NONE

RESOLUTIONS AND MINUTE ENTRIES:

Department of Administration:

RENEWALS

(a)  Mr. Clark referenced the Renewals (A-F) listed on the agenda should read 2014.  Mr. Clark stated at the request of Mr. Hackney that the address and other specific information for each applicant have been put on the agenda. Upon a motion by Ms. Blakes, seconded by Mr. Wilson and unanimously approved to Consider Application by Anderban LLC dba Shananigans, 717 S. 6th, Monroe, LA to renew a  2014 Class A, Alcoholic Beverage Permit. The Monroe Police Department has no disqualifying records and Sales Tax has been approved. (Distance Report Cleared) (There were no comments from the public).

(b) Upon a motion by Ms. Blakes, seconded by Mr. Wilson and unanimously approved to Consider Application by Valyu International LLC dba Mikado Asian, 608 Hwy 165 Bypass, Monroe, LA to renew a 2014 Class A,  Alcoholic Beverage Permit. The Monroe Police Department has no disqualifying records and Sales Tax has been approved. (Distance Report Cleared) (There were no comments from the public).

(c) Upon a motion by Ms. Blakes, seconded by Mr. Wilson and unanimously approved to Consider Application by Katie Santo Inc. dba Sal’s Saloon, 3221 Louisville Ave., Monroe, LA to renew a 2014 Class A, Alcoholic Beverage Permit. The Monroe Police Department has no disqualifying records and Sales Tax has been approved. (Distance Report Cleared) (There were no comments from the public).

(d) Upon a motion by Ms. Blakes, seconded by Mr. Wilson and unanimously approved to Consider Application by Swathi LLC dba Taste of India, 903 N. 4th, Monroe, LA to renew a 2014 Class A, Alcoholic Beverage Permit. The Monroe Police Department has no disqualifying records and Sales Tax has been approved. (Distance Report Cleared) (There were no comments from the public).

(e) Upon a motion by Ms. Blakes, seconded by Mr. Wilson and unanimously approved to Consider Application by LA Disc. Tobacco Inc. dba LA Discount tobacco, 68 W. Elmwood, Monroe, LA to renew a 2014 Class B, Alcoholic Beverage Permit. The Monroe Police Department has no disqualifying records and Sales Tax has been approved. (Distance Report Cleared) (There were no comments from the public).

(f) Upon a motion by Ms. Blakes, seconded by Mr. Wilson and unanimously approved to Consider Application by Southeast Foods LLC dba County Market, 1920 Louisville, Monroe, LA to renew a 2014 Class B, Alcoholic Beverage Permit. The Monroe Police Department has no disqualifying records and Sales Tax has been approved. (Distance Report Cleared) (There were no comments from the public).
Department of Planning & Urban Development:

(a) Upon a motion by Mr. Wilson, seconded by Ms. Blakes and unanimously approved to Adopt Resolution No. 6160, authorizing James E. Mayo, Mayor, to enter into and execute a contract by and between the City of Monroe and Our House, Inc. under the State of Louisiana Housing Finance Agency Emergency Solutions Grant Program for the Homeless (ESGP) FFY 13’ in the amount of $80,000.00 and further providing with respect thereto.

Comments:  Ms. Nell Bradley asked how many Our Houses were there and where is this one located.  Ms. Jawaun Johnson said the Our House is located on Smith Street.  It is for homeless runaway teens. 

Ms. Blakes said it is her understanding that this is a grant.  Ms. Johnson said all of the money is coming from the grant.  Ms. Blakes asked if they were 501c3 and Ms. Johnson said yes and they are current.  Ms. Blakes asked about the selection process of awarding this grant money to a particular nonprofit.  Ms. Johnson said there is a selection process and the nonprofits that have been awarded are the only nonprofit organizations that applied for the grants. 

Mr. Wilson asked how many participants were housed at Our House.  Ms. Johnson said there were housed between 8-16 participants. He then asked if Our House advertised their program to the public so that the citizens could know what this program offered.  Ms. Johnson said the City funds the program and the nonprofit carries out the project and the city monitors the program.

Ms. Blakes said she noticed that there were two funding sources for Our House and Wellspring.  Ms. Johnson responded by saying that the City competed for additional money and was awarded the money for separate allocation and the funds were from monies left over from previous years.
 
(b) Upon a motion by Ms. Blakes, seconded by Mr. Wilson and unanimously approved to Adopt Resolution No. 6161, authorizing James E. Mayo, Mayor, to enter into and execute a contract by and between the City of Monroe and The Wellspring Alliance for Families under the State of Louisiana Housing Finance Agency Emergency Solutions Grant Program for the Homeless (ESGP) FFY 13’ in the amount of $80,000.00 and further providing with respect thereto. 

Comments:  Ms. Nell Bradley wanted to know what was the differences in the two awards go the recipients and if it was State or Federal money.  Ms. Johnson answered that it was State.  Ms. Bradley said she wanted to make sure that the services were being provided and it wasn’t being utilized for salaries, etc.  Ms. Summersgill said there are processes in place for that.  Ms. Bradley asked if she could see the records when she wanted to.  Ms. Summersgill said yes, whenever you present a Public Records Request.  

(c) Upon a motion by Ms. Blakes, seconded by Mr. Wilson and unanimously approved to Adopt Resolution No. 6162, authorizing James E. Mayo, Mayor to enter into and execute a Memorandum of Understanding by and between the City of Monroe and Ouachita Council on Aging in the amount of $10,000.00 from the Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG) B-13-MC-22-0005 and further providing with respect thereto.  (There were no comments from the public).

Comments:   Mr. Wilson asked if anyone was present from the Council on Aging.  There wasn’t anyone present from the Council on Aging.  He then said to Mr. Ross that he noticed that the Council on Aging senior citizen program had been removed from Emily P. Robinson Community Center.  The citizens wanted to know why it had been removed and if it could be brought back to Emily P. Robinson.  Mr. Ross said Ouachita Council on Aging requested to move it to Powell.   

(d) Upon a motion by Mr. Wilson, seconded by Ms. Blakes and unanimously approved to Adopt Resolution No. 6163, authorizing James E. Mayo, Mayor to enter into and execute a Memorandum of Understanding by and between the City of Monroe and Opportunities Industrialization Center of Ouachita, Inc. in the amount of $20,000.00 from the Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG) B-13-MC-22-0005 and further providing with respect thereto. 

Comments:  Ms. Nell Bradley came forward and asked what was the Opportunities Industrialization Center of Ouachita, Inc. Mr. Clark said it is better known as OIC and he asked Ms. Johnson to explain the program.  Ms. Johnson said they are being funded $20,000 for an after school tutorial program and a Senior Citizens Computer Literacy Program.  Ms. Bradley asked where the program was being housed.  Ms. Johnson said the location is Dunlop Street.

(e) Upon a motion by Mr. Wilson, seconded by Ms. Blakes and unanimously approved to Adopt Resolution No. 6164, authorizing James E. Mayo, Mayor to enter into and execute a contract by and between the City of Monroe and Our House, Inc. under the Louisiana Housing Finance Agency Emergency Solutions Grant Program for the Homeless- Round II funding (ESGP) FFY11’ in the amount of $82,448.00 and further providing with respect thereto.  (There were no comments from the public).

(f) Upon a motion by Ms. Blakes, seconded by Mr. Wilson and unanimously approved to Adopt Resolution  No. 6165, authorizing James E. Mayo, Mayor to enter into and execute a contract by and between the City of Monroe and The Wellspring for Families under the Louisiana Housing Finance Agency - Emergency Solutions Grant Program for the Homeless- Round II funding (ESGP) FFY11’ in the amount of $82,448.00 and further providing with respect thereto. 

Comments:  Ms. Nell Bradley asked if this was connected with HUD or was it separate and what services does it provide.  Ms. Johnson said it is connected with the State of Louisiana and that it provides homeless services and the agency finds them a place to stay.

Ms. Blakes said she is familiar with this program and there are some citizens in District 3 who have used the services and she thanked them for getting the extra money for the programs.

(g) Upon a motion by Ms. Blakes, seconded by Mr. Wilson and unanimously approved to Adopt a Resolution No. 6166, authorizing James E. Mayo, Mayor to enter into and execute a Memorandum of Understanding by and between the City of Monroe and Community Housing Development Organization (CHDO) South Point, Inc. in the amount of $40,000 from the HOME Investment Partnership Program (HOME) M-13-MC-22-0206 and further providing with respect thereto.  (There were no comments from the public).

Legal Department: NONE.

Mayor’s Office:

(a) Upon a motion by Ms. Blakes, seconded by Dr. Armstrong and unanimously approved to remove from the Agenda to Adopt a Resolution authorizing the payment of Attorney Fees and further providing with respect thereto. (There were no comments from the public).

Department of Public Works:

(a) Upon a motion by Ms. Blakes, seconded by Mr. Wilson and unanimously approved to Consider request from the Water Distribution Division of the Public Works Department for Council approval for the Purchasing Division to Advertise for a one hundred eighty (180) day supply contract of various Water Distribution parts. Funds for these purchases will be derived from the Inventory Account and billed to the Division accordingly. (There were no comments from the public).

(b) Upon a motion by Mr. Wilson, seconded by Ms. Blakes and unanimously approved to Consider request from the Water Treatment Division of the Public Works Department for authorization from the Council for Purchasing to advertise for a one hundred eighty (180) day supply contract of various Water Treatment Chemicals. Funds will be derived from the Chemical Account. (There were no comments from the public).

Council:

(a) Upon a motion by Ms. Blakes and seconded by Dr. Armstrong, with Ms Blakes, Dr. Armstrong, Mr. Clark voting yes, Mr. Wilson voting no to remove item from the Agenda to Adopt a Resolution approving the appointment of Mr. Johnny Bryant to the Board of Directors of the I-20 Economic Development Commission, and further providing with respect thereto.(Armstrong)

Comments:  Mr. Tim Green, Chamber Commerce came forward to say that he would like to encourage the Council to move forward with the appointments to the I-20 Board.

William Cheek came forward and seconded what Mr. Green said, saying it is time to get on with business for the I-20 Board and that it has gone on way too long from their perspective.  Doesn’t care who is selected just need a quorum to do the business and get the development underway.

Mr. Wilson asked why was the item being removed.

*Mr. Clark explained the reasons why the item was being removed from the agenda. 

*Mayor Mayo commented in reference to Mr. Clark’s response.

*Mr. Michael Duvalt, 3811 Morrison Drive came forward and commented on the agenda item. 

*Ms. Nell Bradley came forward and spoke in reference to the agenda item.

*REFERENCE: For extended details on the council meeting please call the Council Clerk Monday-Friday at 329-2252 to schedule and appointment to listen to the minutes tape.

(b) Upon a motion by Mr. Wilson  and with there being no second on the floor, the motion failed to Adopt a Resolution approving the appointment of Ms. Rowena Sledge to the Board of Directors of the I-20 Economic Development Commission, and further providing with respect thereto. (Wilson) (There were no comments from the public).

(c) Upon a motion by Ms. Blakes, seconded by Dr. Armstrong with Mr. Clark, Dr. Armstrong, Ms. Blakes voting yes and Mr. Wilson voting no to remove item from the agenda to Adopt a Resolution reappointing Mr. Charles Theus to the Board of Directors of the I-20 Economic Development Commission, and further providing with respect thereto. (Blakes) (There were no comments from the public).

(d) Upon a motion by Ms. Blakes, seconded by Dr. Armstrong with Mr. Clark, Dr. Armstrong, Ms. Blakes voting yes and Mr. Wilson voting no to remove item from the agenda to Adopt a Resolution appointing Councilwoman Betty Blakes to the Board of Directors of the I-20 Economic Development Commission, and further providing with respect thereto. (Council) (There were no comments from the public).

(e) Upon a motion by Ms. Blakes, seconded by Dr. Armstrong and unanimously approved to remove item from the agenda Adopt a Resolution authorizing the payment of Attorney Fees and further providing with respect thereto.(Council)

Comments:  Ms. Johnnie Thomas came forward and asked why were the names being removed.  Mr. Clark explained this concern had been addressed by him previously.

Mr. Louis Scott came forward with concerns and stated his comments were not specific to that particular agenda item; Mr. Clark explained to him that his comments would have to be germane to the current agenda item.

Department of Community Affairs:

Upon a motion by Ms. Blakes, seconded by Mr. Wilson and unanimously approved to Adopt Resolution No. 6167, authorizing the Purchasing Department of the City of Monroe to advertise for bids on restrooms for certain recreational facilities and further providing with respect thereto. (There were no comments from the public).

Police Department: NONE.

Fire Department: NONE.

Engineering Services:

(a)  Upon a motion by Mr. Wilson, seconded by Ms. Blakes and unanimously approved to Consider request to authorize the Purchasing Manager to advertise for bids on the Masur Museum and Carriage House Roof Repairs Project. The estimated cost of this project is $140,000.00.  (There were no comments from the public).

Comments:  Ms. Blakes asked if Ms. Sinyale Morrison provided the memo because the memo was signed from Ms. Morrison.  Mr. Arthur Holland responded by saying the memo with Ms. Morrison’s name on it was an error from his office.

(b) Upon a motion by Ms. Blakes, seconded by Mr. Wilson and unanimously approved to Adopt  Resolution No. 6168, authorizing Dumas & Associates, Inc. for Bridge Inspection and Reporting and further providing with respect thereto. 

Comments:  Ms. Nell Bradley asked which of the bridges were being inspected.  Mr. Holland said the city had several bridges in the city that has to be inspected annually according to DOTD.  He said Mr. Dumas is certified to do bridge inspection for the city and parish.  He asked Council to look at paperwork they have from DOTD approving the work. 

Ms. Bradley asked to explain the location of the bridges and asked why do the city have to inspect the bridges in the parish.  He mentioned Orange Street bridge was repaired by DOTD and paid by them.  Ms. Bradley asked if the list of bridges inspected could be provided to her.  Mr. Clark said it would be provided to her by Mr. Holland.

Ms. Blakes asked if this was the only company that does this type of bridge inspection work.  Mr. Holland said that he checked the files and David Dumas has been doing the bridge inspections for a while and that he is the only certified bridge inspector that the city has used since 2009 and he is the engineer.  Ms. Blakes asked if this was the only company in the file.  Mr. Holland said he is the only local company.

INTRODUCTION OF RESOLUTIONS & ORDINANCES:

(a) Upon a motion by Ms. Blakes, seconded by Mr. Wilson and unanimously approved to Introduce an Ordinance amending Chapter 30.5 Entitled Smoke-Free Air Act, Section 30.5-7 Entitled Prohibition of Smoking in Outdoor Public Places and further providing with respect thereto.(Legal)

Comments:  Ms. Nell Bradley came forward and wanted to know what was being changed.  Ms. Summersgill said the best thing she could say is that it brings it more in line to West Monroe to make it a little bit more palatable to restaurant owners.  In outdoor areas they can have more freedom to let  people smoke at a distance.  Ms. Nell Bradley asked how many feet and we should know that information.  Ms. Summersgill  said this is a reasonable difference of five feet.  She said there were business owners that opposed to the distance  we had and we made the Ordinance more palatable distance for those customers who want to smoke and brought it in line with more West Monroe and the Parish.  Ms. Bradley asked if this amendment included the patio being attached and being a part of the bar.  She asked what all is being changed.  Mr. Clark asked to get to Ms. Bradley anything that she needs before the final vote of this Ordinance.

(b) Upon a motion by Ms. Blakes, seconded by Mr. Wilson and approved with Ms. Blakes, Mr. Clark and Dr. Armstrong voting yes; Mr. Wilson voting no,  to Introduce an Ordinance authorizing the acceptance of a Donation from the Fort Miro Chapter, National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution of a World War II Memorial on the grounds of Monroe City Hall and further providing with respect thereto.(Armstrong)

Comments:  Ms. Nell Bradley said it was a wonderful idea and that we needed to honor our WWII Vets.

Mr. Wilson had concerns about another monument going out front City Hall because others for example the Deltas, African Heritage would want to do the same thing and the front lawn could end up looking like a cemetery.  Dr. Armstrong explained the donation monument and said Council had a packet before them with the information on the donation.

(c) Upon a motion by Ms. Blakes, seconded by Mr. Wilson and unanimously approved to Introduce an Ordinance to rename an existing street name from Ferrand Street to Armand Connector. This change will occur from Armand Street to Sterlington Road (an approximate 1,605 section) and further providing with respect thereto.(P&Z) (There were no comments from the public).

(d) Upon a motion by Mr. Wilson, seconded by Ms. Blakes and unanimously approved to Introduce an Ordinance adopting and amending the Zoning Map for the City of Monroe, Louisiana and authorizing the Clerk to publish notice of Public Hearing to rezone an existing .52 acre tract from B-3 General Business District to a B-3R General Business/Residential District presently located in Ouachita Parish –APPLICANT – Anthony Rispoli – (P&Z)

Comments:  Mr. AA Rispoli came forward and explained why he wanted the property rezoned. He stated that the property was commercial and to the right south of the property is a residential property.  He wants the property to conform to the current zoning classification.  The property is going to be sold but the person who wants to purchase the property doesn’t want the chance of having the property become zoned as commercial.

Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Jones came forward and asked Council if they would consider rezoning it as Residential.

(e) Upon a motion by Mr. Wilson, seconded by Ms. Blakes and unanimously approved to Introduce an Ordinance adopting and amending the Zoning Map for the City of Monroe, Louisiana and authorizing the Clerk to publish notice of Public Hearing to rezone an existing 5.69 acre tract from B-3 General Business District to a B-4 Heavy Commercial District presently located in Ouachita Parish –APPLICANT – J.D. Frost Trucking Company – (P&Z)  (There were no comments from the public).

(f) Upon a motion by Ms. Blakes, seconded by Mr. Wilson and unanimously approved to Introduce an Ordinance adopting and amending the Zoning Map for the City of Monroe, Louisiana and authorizing the Clerk to publish notice of Public Hearing to rezone an existing 1.42 acre tract from B-2 Neighborhood Business District to an R-MD Medium Density Residential District presently located in Ouachita Parish –APPLICANT – Sampco, LLC/Greg Sampognaro – (P&Z)  (There were no comments from the public).

RESOLUTIONS AND ORDINANCES FOR SECOND READING AND FINAL ADOPTION:

(a) Upon a motion by Mr. Wilson, seconded by Dr. Armstrong with Dr. Armstrong, Mr. Wilson and Mr. Clark voting yes; Ms. Blakes abstaining, to Finally adopt Ordinance No. 11,447,  amending and adjusting the City of Monroe Operating Budget for the fiscal year 2013-2014. (Admin.)  (There were no comments from the public).

(b) Upon a motion by Mr. Wilson, seconded by Ms. Blakes with Mr. Wilson, Dr. Armstrong, Ms. Blakes voting no and Mr. Clark abstaining, not to adopt an Ordinance authorizing James E. Mayo, Mayor, to accept the Proposal of First Transit, Inc. for Management Services and further providing with respect thereto. (Public Wks.)

Comments:  Ms. Nell Bradley asked if this was the same management company who currently runs it now and also, do they have to carry the insurance on the buses or is the city responsible for the insurance.  Mr. Janway responded that it is the same company and yes the city is still responsible for the insurance.  She asked how much the contract was for.  Mr. Janway said the contract for the first year is $208,000. 

Ms. Johnnie Thomas asked why the city would need to go to Cincinnati to get someone to run our city bus service.  She felt we had citizens in Monroe capable of running the bus service.  She also asked if anyone had bided on this contract.  Mr. Janway responded that he sent out RFP’s to four national companies that do transit management and six additional firms requested copies of the proposal and that there were 4 bidders who responded to the proposal; three of the four national companies responded and a smaller company out of Baton Rouge responded.  Ms. Thomas asked if they were the lowest bidder.  She said our people deserve more, this company hasn’t enhanced the city and doesn’t understand why the city would keep the same company for over thirty years and what they are getting in return for keeping this company.  Mr. Janway responded  by saying if anyone goes and look at any transit operating facility in Louisiana and in Jackson Mississippi that the City of Monroe has one of the finest small transit facilities in the country.  He also said five years ago we have plaques on our wall where we awarded best management practices that can be transferred to other agencies and was recognized nationally for that.  Ms. Thomas said the plaques on the wall doesn’t mean anything if the people aren’t being treated right.

Gary Coles, MV Transportation, Sr. VP, one of the firms that responded to the RFP by the submission of a proposal.  He stated that his firm never received from the city information that his firm wasn’t selected.  He proceeded by stating that his company is a viable option and MV Transportation is the largest American owned  provider of transit management services in the world.  In Louisiana they were selected to provide services to Baton Rouge for the increase of their services to reevaluate their system.  He stated he is not present to oppose First Transit but to let the City know that they are a viable option.

Mr. Wilson started his comments off by saying that he asked for the First Transit Contract last week and had just received it today and had a concern about that.  He said he had a list of items from his visiting several bus terminals and sites and what he learned was citizens were not pleased, buses are late, buses are breaking down and the heat on the buses are not working.  He also visited the terminal downtown and was disappointed in what he witnessed as bathroom facilities fixtures are not working, it is cold in the break room, there were no tables for employees to sit down during their breaks.  He said he talked to both former and current bus employees and they were not pleased with First Transit.  We have been with First Transit for 20 plus years.  We talked about a bus shelter on Jackson Street, the manager said he had one at the office and to this day it hasn’t happened.  We talked about the Lee Avenue area.  Some of the things he saw today he said he was concerned about and when he didn’t  get a copy of the contract he was concerned.

Mr. Keenan, Manager, First Transit said he did receive a request from Mr. Wilson about a bus shelter on Jackson Street and they did a survey for that location which  included the number of people getting on and off the buses and since the shelters cost in excess of $20,000.  He said they can’t put shelters everywhere in the city, the location had three to four people ridership per day.  In comparison to other locations in the city where there are bus shelters, there wasn’t anything in that area.  He spoke with other supervisors looking in other areas on Jackson Street  and there wasn’t much ridership and this is the reason a shelter wasn’t placed on Jackson Street.  Mr. Janway asked Mr. Keenan how many bus  stops were there and Mr. Keenan said there were over 1100 bus stops and Mr. Janway said that it is impossible to have a shelter at every bus stop. Mr. Wilson stated surely know you can’t put shelters at 1100 bus stops, but throughout Jackson Street the citizens are standing out in the rain and have called him about shelters. 

Ms. Blakes asked if the contract was for five years and Mr. Janway said it was.  She asked if First Transit was responsible for getting the Council to pass the insurance.  Mr. Janway said the City of Monroe provides the Insurance.  Ms. Blakes said she understood who provides it, but she asked who is supposed to have the contract come up.  Mr. Janway said the general manager normally generates it in conjunction with the legal department.  He said there is an agent of record who goes out on an annual basis and gets quotes for transit insurance.  Ms. Blakes said the general manager was supposed to have done it before we had the special call meeting.  Mr. Janway said one of the problems was actually getting a vendor to bid on the business and there were only two companies and the low bidder company was three hundred sixty two thousand and next bid was five hundred thousand and the other company would not talk with us.  We went through a broker to get the insurance.  Ms. Blakes asked if First Transit was supposed to get the insurance.  Mr. Janway said he is ultimately responsible for the operation of First Transit.  Ms. Blakes then asked who is responsible for the Labor Contract.  Mr. Janway said the City Council was responsible for the Labor Contract.  She said she knew that Council approved it but then asked if First Transit was a part of the negotiation team which includes him, the mayor.  Ms. Blakes asked Mr. Janway in reference to a gentleman coming forward and speaking about the Labor Contract and it needing to be redone, because it had not been, then who was responsible for that being done.  Mr. Janway stated that they have been in negotiation with the union for several months and it’s an ongoing process and the legal department is a part of it.

Ms. Summersgill offered her comments to Council in that she said you have to go by Federal guidelines and that there needs to be a management company in place and if not then we would find ourselves in an emergency situation and in violation of some federal guidelines. 

Mr. Janway added in response to Mr. Wilson’s comments of the buses breaking down; he stated we currently have six buses that are scheduled for replacement in the upcoming federal budget year and we don’t know but the normal match is 20%  since hurricane Katrina and received all of the buses at 100% and depending on the availability funds will be able to replace six passenger buses.  Also,  found out in the past two weeks that have a new freedom grant in the amount of $600,000 and will be able to replace all three of the new ADA vans and the remaining funds available will be able to match 50/50 with operating costs.

Mr. Wilson asked who was the lowest bidder.  Mr. Janway said it was MV Transportation.  Mr. Wilson asked why was he recommending First Transit.  Mr. Janway said because they met all of the aspects of the RFP and when scoring they came out on top and obviously since they have been here for 36 years they met all of the aspects of the proposal.

Mayor Mayo stated that twelve years ago when he became Mayor, First Transit was the management team and there have been about three or four general managers since that time and remember  the conditions of the bus and weren’t nearly as good as they are now.  We have come a long way change color scheme, etc. We have won  state national and other awards, things haven’t been perfect but have worked through them; employee concerns and issues attempted to work through, often times have been able to sometimes not and part of the labor agreement when meet with union representatives in addition to the other five unions.  There are employees both present and past who have issues from something that may have happened and been addressed, maybe not to their liking, and people get mad as they may get mad with you as Council members, they get mad with me and all of us when things don’t go their way.  The Administration is recommending First Transit for all of those reasons, we have a very, very good working relationship with them and he respectfully disagreed with Ms. Thomas who said that anybody locally can do the job; we do need a management firm and that is why most communities have transit systems management firms and according to Ms. Summersgill indicated there are so many Federal Guidelines and the federal money can be snatched away from us at anytime if all of our I’s are not dotted and T’s crossed; this is why First Transit is being recommended and we didn’t know anything about the other companies other than what they have submitted, we have had a good working relationship with First Transit.  He asked the Council to consider it and move forward. 

 (c) Upon a motion by Mr. Wilson, seconded by Ms. Blakes and unanimously approved to Finally adopt  Emergency Ordinance No. 11,448, declaring the need for immediate repairs to two pumps at the Texas Avenue Pump Station and further providing with respect thereto.  (There were no comments from the public).

CITIZENS PARTICIPATION:

1.  Ms. Nell Bradley came forward and shared with Council a letter that someone mailed to her in regard to her asking questions at City Council meetings.

2.  Mr. Wayne Hackney said because of the noise level sometimes in the Council Meetings it is hard for him to hear.  He also said he remembered prior to Mayo being Mayor that City Employees could come to City Council Meetings and voice their opinions without having repercussions of being fired, they can’t do this anymore and would like for Council to look into this by getting an Ordinance for employees who are also tax payers to be able to come and voice their opinions.  He thinks the only way to get  the I-20 Board back on board is to get rid of the one person.

3.  Lane Eddleman spoke about proposed presentation Ordinance to make sure that section 9, Item F had not been passed over tonight.  Mr. Clark stated that it was only introduced tonight but that it will come up for final vote in January. 
       
4.  Ted Hopkins spoke about the current agenda Item F, Section 9.  Mr. Clark said it would be up for discussion at the Council Meeting on January 14, 2014.

5.  Jared Evans came forward and voiced his concern about the current agenda Item F, Section 9. Mr. Clark said it would be up for discussion at the Council Meeting on January 14, 2014.

6.  Ray Jones came forward and shared with Council how he has encouraged students from Barkdull Faulk by taking them throughout the City. He wanted to students to get a vision on how they want their city to be.

7.  Terry Ford spoke about his problems with a sidewalk at the corner of South 1st and Stone Avenue.  He said that he has spoken many many times with Councilman Wilson as well as Ms. James concerning this problem and all he asks is that the sidewalk is fixed.  He stated that he has witnessed several people trip over the sidewalk curb and the first was an elderly lady back in May.  He said apparently there is miscommunication in the Public Works Department.  He said Mr. Wilson has made call after call and Ms. James has sent emails and called.  He said all he is asking is that it is fixed.

8.  Earl Davis spoke and said that he would like to get on the agenda for next meeting to present methods for Council to be a little more effecting in reaching the community.  He mentioned the use of I pads and the council being able to access the community with the latest technology.  Mr. Clark asked him to get with the Clerk to see if he needed to be on the agenda and or possibly meet with the Council, two at a time.

9. Louis Scott encouraged the Council by next meeting to resolve whatever difficulties have regarding Economic Development Corporation. He said businesses are seeking to come to Monroe everyday and they aren’t going to wait and will go wherever the opportunity is.  The stalemate will be harming the city. He gave examples of the I-20 Economic Development Projects, Lowes, Target, Home Depot, Ashley Furniture and many other businesses along the area.

There being no further business to come before the council, the meeting was adjourned at 7:55 p.m., upon motion of Ms. Blakes and seconded by Mr. Clark.

Mr. Eddie Clark
Chairman

Carolus S. Riley
Council Clerk

Jacqueline Benjamin
Council Secretary

For extended details on the council meeting please call the Council Clerk Monday-Friday at
329-2252 to schedule and appointment to listen to the minutes tape. 

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