Monroe City Council Minutes
Dr. Raymond A. Armstrong
District #2 Mrs. Gretchen H. Ezernack
Ms. Betty Blakes
District #4 Mr. Kenneth Wilson
Mr. Eddie Clark
CITY OF MONROE, LOUISIANA
Post Office Box 123
Monroe, Louisiana 71210-0123
Phone (318) 329-2252
Fax (318) 329-3416
May 27, 2014
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, Mrs. Ezernack, Ms. Blakes, Mr. Wilson and Mr. Clark.
There was absent: None
Chairman Clark announced that a quorum was present and that the Invocation and the Pledge of Allegiance would be led by Mr. Wilson’s designee, Elder Givens, Assistant Pastor of Macedonia Seventh Day Adventist Church who served in Vietnam in 1969 where he received a Purple Heart and was Honorably Discharged for his service to our Country.
Chairman Clark proceeded by acknowledging the time for special announcements and/or communications.
Dr. Armstrong welcomed everyone and began his comments about a recent publication which showed Census data reflecting a 0.4 per cent increase in the population. West Monroe had a drop of two people since 2010 and Sterlington had the largest percent increase. Dr. Armstrong stated that with the growth of Monroe we still elude the 50,000 mark and is listed at 49,761 increasing by 190 people; the 50,000 mark qualifies our City for Federal Grants which we now receive below that mark because we are Hub City.
Dr. Armstrong encouraged the Mayor and PUD Director Chris Fisher to effectively market Monroe, as we are already doing and to aggressively seek annexation to the City of Monroe which is critically important to our success and ability of accomplishing our goals of developing jobs and economic development.
Mrs. Ezernack stated in her acknowledgment of Memorial Day that she wanted to publicly thank those who are now protecting us as well as those who have in the past and those who gave the perfect sacrifice and we should honor them every day, not just set aside days.
Ms. Blakes welcomed and thanked each one for being present; she thanked the Public Works Department and Code Enforcement; Public Works for the fence work at the Cemetery on DeSiard Street and for the demolition work of two houses on Renwick Street. She asked Ms. Golden for the Tower Armand Report. She acknowledged the absence of Ms. Gloria Walker from Council Meetings, and asked that everyone would keep her in their prayers for a speedy recovery.
Mr. Wilson welcomed each one present and thanked the Veterans here locally and the Country for their service and to remember the families of the fallen soldiers. He also congratulated all graduates, PreK through College; he is Monroe Proud of them. He acknowledged the new washateria on South 2nd that is located in District 4 and it will serve both District’s 4 and 5. He thanked Legal, Code Enforcement and Council Staff for moving the demolition of the Kitchen Brothers building. He thanked Ms. Benjamin for her work on the Council Newsletter as well as Ms. James who took pictures for the newsletter, as he has gotten calls regarding the benefit of the newsletter to the constituents. Mr. Wilson stated that he and some community residents will meet at Lida Benton Park at 5:00 p.m. and will go door to door asking residents to lend a hand by keeping the park and the community clean. He asked that everyone would contact others who would be interested in showing up at Lida Benton on Wednesday for this endeavor.
Mayor Mayo stated that he had no communications.
Mr. Clark welcomed everyone present and stated they were important. He acknowledged Mr. Cordell Blockson, Best Buy, Ms. Koyne Smith, City Court. Mr. Clark stated that the Council newsletter was nice and he thanked Ms. Benjamin, the Administration and everyone else who had a part in it; the newsletter serves to keep our entire citizen’s informed all the way around the board.
Upon a motion of Ms. Blakes and seconded by Mr. Wilson, the minutes of the Legal and Regular Session of May 13, 2014 were unanimously approved as presented. (There were no comments from the public).
PRESENTATION: Comprehensive Report & Up To Date Financials Downtown Economic Development Dist. Mr. Clark stated that this Agenda item was included in error, as Ms. Gatling-Akers was not able to present the report due to a death in her family; she will present the report at the June 24th Council meeting.
PUBLIC HEARINGS: NONE.
1. 1509 Alabama Street (D4) (Owner - Benny & Nydia Sims)
"Notice to Show Cause” was served. Upon a motion by Mr. Wilson, seconded by Mr. Clark and unanimously approved to be given 90 days or until August 27, 2014, in which to bring the structures into compliance with the code or demolish the structures and clean the lot.
Comments: Ms. Catherine Robinson, Code Enforcement Officer came forward and stated that the home was not in compliance. Mr. Sims, the owner was present and asked what he needed to do to bring the home up to compliance. Ms. Robinson gave him instructions to come by Code Enforcement and they will share with him and assist him in the matter.
2. 3801 Dunlop Street (D3) - (Owner - Welton & Janie Holman). "Notice to Show Cause” was served. Upon a motion by Ms. Blakes, seconded by Mr. Wilson and unanimously approved to be given 90 days or until August 27, 2014, in which to bring the structures into compliance with the code or demolish the structures and clean the lot. (There were no comments from the public).
Comments: Ms. Blakes reported that she had spoken with the owners of the property.
3. 3610 Gayton Street (D3) (Owner - Lydia & Louise Perkin Alexander). "Notice to Show Cause” was served. Upon a motion by Ms. Blakes, seconded by Mr. Wilson and unanimously approved to remove from the Agenda. (There were no comments from the public).
Comments: Ms. Summersgill stated that Ms. Bridgette Wright came into the Legal office this morning and stated that she had received notice about the property (her mother Ms. Martha Johnson signed for the letter) and that she has nothing to do with the ownership of the property. Ms. Summersgill advised that Council should remove this item from the agenda and add on another date when the title has been researched. The address that she has information on is for 3606 Gayton Street, not 3610.
ACCEPTANCE OR REJECTION OF BIDS: None.
RESOLUTIONS AND MINUTE ENTRIES:
1. Department of Administration:
(a) Upon a motion by Ms. Blakes, seconded by Mr. Wilson and unanimously approved to Consider an Application by Adel Nagi dba Northside Stores LLC, 2422 Desiard St., Monroe, LA 71201 for 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).
(b) Upon a motion by Ms. Blakes, seconded by Mr. Wilson and unanimously approved to Consider request from the Department of Administration, Property Control Division for Council approval for the Purchasing Division to advertise for a Security Camera Surveillance System for City Court. The estimated cost for this Security System is $60,000.00 and the funds for this purchase will be derived from the Capital Account. (There were no comments from the public).
Comments: Ms. Blakes asked if this had already been purchased in the past and Mr. Richard Moore, Property Control said that it had not been purchased in the past; Mr. Moore stated that an x-ray machine and metal detector had already been purchased for City Court. Mr. Clark thanked everyone who had something to do with bringing this item to the Agenda. He said there has been for at least three years requests to protect the City Court, residents and the Judges and to see this item (security camera) on the agenda for Council Vote and in addition to hearing Richard Moore speak about the x-ray machine, metal detector for the front door at City Court that has been purchased is certainly a win, win for everybody.
Department of Planning & Urban Development: NONE.
Legal Department: NONE.
(a) Upon a motion by Ms. Blakes, seconded by Mr. Wilson and unanimously approved to Adopt Resolution No. 6244, stating the City of Monroe’s endorsement of Yogi Monroe, Inc., Project
#20140109 to participate in the benefits of the Louisiana Enterprise Zone Program and further
providing with respect thereto.
Comments: Ms. Nell Bradley asked if the City does investigation into these companies because on the next agenda item and with the proposed business to participate in the benefits that there is no 515 Bres Avenue. She asked if there is fraud with these companies, is the City responsible.
Ms. Summersgill stated that her knowledge of these companies are that they are approved by the State and they only come to the City once they are approved by the State; as we are only participating in their program. Ms. Nell Bradley asked if they were investigated; Ms. Summersgill said all that she knows is they should have prior approval from the State.
Ms. Blakes asked if this was a new or old business and Ms. Summersgill said she didn’t have the answer to that question.
(b) Upon a motion by Ms. Blakes, seconded by Mr. Wilson and unanimously approved to Adopt Resolution No. 6245, stating the City of Monroe’s endorsement of Our Little Corner, LLC
Project #20140118 to participate in the benefits of the Louisiana Enterprise Zone Program and
further providing with respect thereto. (There were no comments from the public).
(c) Upon a motion by Mr. Wilson, seconded by Ms. Blakes and unanimously approved to Adopt Resolution No. 6246, stating the City of Monroe’s endorsement of IBM Corporation, Project #20140265 to participate in the benefits of the Louisiana Quality Jobs Program and further providing with respect thereto. (There were no comments from the public).
Comments: Ms. Blakes asked what Louisiana Quality Jobs Program was and how would it benefit the community and the fifty jobs. Ms. Summersgill said that she couldn’t answer the question because she is not normally the person who would do that; she said that she does know that you have to bring jobs in from this area and if you don’t then you must show why you can’t get people from this area to be employed in those jobs to go outside the area. She said Dr. Vines would normally be present to answer these types of questions. Ms. Blakes asked would the fifty jobs be from Monroe or Baton Rouge. Ms. Summersgill said the it was her understanding that they are applying here in Louisiana for the benefits of this program, and there is a criteria for the fifty jobs that they come from so many miles distance of the project area, they have to do that, but if they can’t fill the jobs from within, they can go outside, but they have to show the state; she said she noticed the project numbers are the state project numbers where the state approved them.
Ms. Blakes asked for clarification in that if they can’t find anyone here locally to fill the jobs, that this company can go elsewhere to find applicants to fill the position even though the City has paid money. Ms. Summersgill said it is not so much that we are paying money, but the business is getting a tax break if they bring jobs here. David Barnes stated they get a rebate on their sales tax for construction, if they provide the jobs; the jobs are highly technical jobs and may not be able to get them all filled here; they are basically trying to help Century Link.
Department of Public Works:
Upon a motion by Ms. Ezernack, seconded by Mr. Clark and unanimously approved to add to the Agenda authorizing James E. Mayo, Mayor to enter into an agreement with Compsych Corporation for Guidance/Resource Services and Further providing with respect thereto. (There were no comments from the public).
Comments: Ms. Blakes wanted to know why Council was just receiving this information. Ms. Summersgill said it was her fault and it is the one that she referenced in her email; Ms. Summersgill said that she received the information on the 12th and didn’t have enough time to get it on the Council agenda; she said it was part of the triennial review and it is required by FTA and they went to Wellspring to see if they could provide the services and they could not. She said this company is used by a lot of Transit Companies and so they went with them, as $1700 was reasonable for the provided services. Ms. Blakes referenced the date of May 25th on the contract and asked if it was in effect; Ms. Summersgill said it wasn’t because it had not been signed but that it would be effective when adopted; she said the funds are available for the service.
Dr. Armstrong asked if grant funds were paying for this service; Ms. Summersgill answered yes all of the grant funds and this is part of the review that FTA required.
Mr. Clark asked that since it is being added tonight that Mrs. Summersgill would give the public a brief synopsis of the services that will be rendered by Compsych. Ms. Summersgill said it provides counseling services for those people who are in jobs that have to deal a lot with the public, where you might get stressed out a lot, particularly in mass transportation; it offers counseling services to them and if they need alcohol, drug rehabilitation, then these services would be of benefit to them as well; a service for our employees who are involved in mass transportation.
Mr. Wilson asked if there was cost to employees; Ms. Summersgill said there was no cost to employees, it is to serve them there, but there would possibly be cost if they had to go to be hospitalized or clinic; these are for initial assessments.
Ms. Nell Bradley asked for clarification on the $1700; Ms. Summersgill said it is for counseling services and the employees do not have to pay for the counseling services and it is a one-time payment.
Upon a motion by Ms. Ezernack, seconded by Mr. Wilson and unanimously approved to Adopt Resolution No. 6247, authorizing James E. Mayo, Mayor to enter into an agreement with Compsych Corporation for Guidance/Resource Services and Further providing with respect thereto. (There were no comments from the public).
Upon a motion by Ms. Blakes, seconded by Mr. Wilson and unanimously approved to Adopt Resolution No. 6248, authorizing the payment of Attorney Fees and further providing with respect thereto. (Blakes). (There were no comments from the public).
Department of Community Affairs: NONE.
Police Department: NONE.
Fire Department: NONE.
(a) Upon a motion by Ms. Blakes, seconded by Mr. Wilson and unanimously approved to Adopt Resolution No. 6249, authorizing James E. Mayo, Mayor, to enter into and execute a contract with Lazenby & Associates, Inc. for Engineering Services, and further providing with respect thereto.
Comments: Ms. Nell Bradley asked if this agenda item pertained to the next item on the agenda. Mr. Clark asked that Ms. Golden would come forward to speak on this agenda (a) item. Ms. Golden explained that (a) and (b) are the same and apologized for not getting Council copies of the proposal contracts until tonight, as it was a breakdown of communication in her department. She said the project was for engineering services to engineer the rehabilitation of two important water storage tanks in the system at Thomas which is a million gallons/metal and the one at Selman Field is four and a half million gallons; there have been a previous limited study done on the condition of the tanks and said that an engineer needed to look at the tanks; Lazenby and Associates did the previous tank work, satisfactorily and they were asked to look at them and give the City a fee proposal and this is what this item is for; to retain Lazenby and Associates to do the full Engineering investigations of the two tanks and then to do the full engineering plan and specifications so that a contractor can be hired to do the work and inspect that work to ensure it is done right. The fee proposal for the basic engineering services is $73,000 for plans and specs and when inspection services it is $112,000 and it is in line with about a million dollars of work to be done on the tanks and is funded by Public Works water capital account. Public Works has the capital to do the work as well.
Mr. Clark stated for the public’s knowledge that the estimated cost of construction for both water tanks is $900,000 and Ms. Golden said that was correct. Mr. Clark told Ms. Golden that he was pleased to see other engineering firms being considered and was glad to see that the wealth was being shared.
(b) Upon a motion by Ms. Blakes, seconded by Mr. Wilson and unanimously approved to remove this item from the agenda to Adopt a Resolution authorizing James E. Mayo, Mayor, to enter into and execute a contract with Lazenby & Associates, Inc. for engineering services, for the repair & recoating of city water tanks (Thomas Avenue & Selman Field), and further providing with respect thereto. (There were no comments from the public).
(c) Upon a motion by Ms. Blakes, seconded by Mr. Wilson and unanimously approved to Adopt Resolution No. 6250, authorizing James E. Mayo, Mayor, to enter into and execute a contract with Neel-Schaffer for Traffic Analysis Services, and further providing with respect thereto.
Comments: Ms. Bradley asked if this was the same company doing the study at 165 and Renwick. She asked since 165 is a State road, then why does the City have to pay for it. Ms. Golden said it is more than just one thing, it is a master service agreement and it is to have them on a stand by capacity; she said Dr. Armstrong mentioned that the City does not have traffic engineering services on staff and for a City our size, it is important to have access to that and because we can’t afford to hire a traffic engineer on staff, we have access to those services as needed rapidly and will ask them to study the South 8th and Texas Avenue intersection. She stated that DOTD has done a traffic study for that intersection, but under the city’s maintenance agreement with DOTD that the City is supposed to do those traffic studies and we were not satisfied with their conclusions and this would be a fuller study of traffic counts, accidents and the geometry of the intersection and to propose alternatives. Neel Schaffer is the gold standard of traffic engineering for Louisiana and this will be adding capacity to departments having the expertise; the way it would work is the City would identify a particular problem and the company would work up a work task order and then it would be engaged for something specific.
Mr. Wilson expressed his excitement regarding the traffic study for South 8th And Texas Avenue as there have been numerous wrecks and some of which have been deadly. He said the citizens as well as himself and Mr. Clark is pleased because their districts are divided into that area. He has received many calls and the study will be of great benefit to those citizens.
Ms. Bradley asked what the amount of the contract was and if the contract was for the one service or more. Ms. Golden said the contract is an open master service agreement and it is similar to what is in place with Denmon Engineering to fill in when there was no city engineer; the city will call upon Neel-Schaffer for different tasks and nothing is owed until something specifically engaged. She said if Council would prefer not to do it this way, then Council can do a project specific basis, like the traffic studies that have been done and are going on at 165 South and Renwick Street and Louberta. The contract amount for the two are $11,550. A fee proposal for the South 8th and Texas Avenue study has not been received. Mr. Wilson wanted to know the time line for the South 8th Study and Ms. Golden said a ninety day is usually requested, but sometimes for instance like Renwick Street that has had so many accidents, that the time of collecting the information and getting it right is longer. Mr. Wilson asked that she keep them posted.
INTRODUCTION OF RESOLUTIONS & ORDINANCES: NONE.
RESOLUTIONS AND ORDINANCES FOR SECOND READING AND FINAL ADOPTION:
(a) Upon a motion by Dr. Armstrong, seconded by Mr. Wilson and unanimously approved to pass over to Finally Adopt an Ordinance amending Chapter 25.5 of the Monroe City Code Entitled "Peddlers, Transient Merchants, creating rules and regulations for mobile food vendors, to establish permits and permitting fees and further providing with respect thereto. (Legal)
Comments: Ms. Nell Bradley said she was all for passing over this ordinance, but feels that there should be a public community meeting to discuss this Ordinance before bringing it back before Council. Mr. Clark said this is why Dr. Armstrong is passing it over and said Ms. Bradley’s suggestion is well noted.
Ms. Erlanda Chisley, Owner of Chisley’s Soul Food on Winnsboro Road said she was against the food trucks coming to the City, because before she opened up her restaurant, she tried to get a food truck and was turned down several times; she said at the time of trying to get a food truck that she felt she was being discriminated against and decided to open up a land based restaurant on Winnsboro Road. She said now with the Food Truck Ordinance being brought up that she feels this Ordinance, if is passed would hurt her land based business. She said her company saw a need to deliver food to not only the Southside, but to West Monroe and the Northside. She asks how the food trucks can be inspected when the City doesn’t have enough employees to do the work of inspecting the land based restaurants that are presently open. Mr. Clark stated that Ms. Summersgill would get with Ms. Chisley on answering her question about the inspectors. She wanted to know how did the Food Truck Ordinance come about, because another concern is that the land based restaurants are opening and closing and how would the food trucks help the city. Mr. Clark explained that there is a motion on the floor to pass over this agenda item and asked that Ms. Chisley would get with Ms. Summersgill on getting her questions answered.
Mr. Cordell Blockston came forward to state that he was against the Food Truck Ordinance. He has had a business on Renwick for 26 years and is concerned about the 150 ft. location status for food trucks near restaurants and wondered how the trucks would put a 1,000 gallon grease trap on the food trucks or will the rules change for them.
(b) Ordinance No. 11,473 was offered for final adoption by Mrs. Ezernack and on her motion seconded by Ms. Blakes was unanimously approved revoking McKeen Place from the west property line of Lot 1,
America’s Park subdivision, Unit 4 east to its terminus approximately 120’ to its terminus and
further providing with respect thereto. (P&Z)
The Chairman opened the Public Hearing and seeing no one come forward the Hearing was declared closed.
(c) Ordinance No. 11,474 was offered for final adoption by Mr. Wilson and on his motion seconded by Ms. Blakes was unanimously approved authorizing the City of Monroe to take corporeal possession of
the property described below and sell to Ronnie L. Bass, for five thousand seven hundred seventy-one and 70/100 dollars, all rights, title and interest that the City may have acquired in and to Lot twelve (12) of Square eighty-one (81) of Unit thirteen (13), Booker T. Washington Addition, Monroe, La, by Adjudication at Tax Sale dated July 17, 2001, and further with respect thereto. (Dist.3) (Legal)
The Chairman opened the Public Hearing and seeing no one come forward the Hearing was declared closed.
1. Ms. Nell Bradley spoke about the Jazz Club on Washington Street that was brought before Council and voted upon and approved because the 2nd measurement was done by Planning and Zoning, Mr. Fisher which showed it being less than 300 feet from the Excellence Academy School. She wanted to know if his job description included the measuring of the distance and if not, she is requesting that the City Council would get the State Police to investigate. She gave an incident where an owner on Roger Street and 165 across from a Lutheran Church had a conflict of distance measurement where it was said it came to the property and not the door of the church and the city would not let him open and she said if the bar is okayed then we should call this guy back and let him reapply for his license; she said she believes in all people being treated equally.
2. Mr. Wayne Hackney spoke about the denial of Roosevelt Wright’s School because of the bar. He said Rev. Wright got himself an attorney and the attorney Rev. Wright his license. He said Mr. Fisher has stated one thing and the Alcohol and Tobacco Licensing has stated another thing as well as the State Police; they have said the bar should not be there, but Mr. Fisher has said that it should be there. He said it was not Mr. Fisher’s job description to go out and measure and that it should be reversed and Mr. Wright’s attorney fees should be given back. He said when the Alcohol and Tobacco department went out and measured that they refused to sign off on the license and wanted to know why Mr. Fisher told Council that it was far enough; he said somebody lied about the distance measurement.
3. Mr. Scott Dickson spoke in support of the Food Truck Ordinance and said the City should not pass laws meant to protect established businesses from competition from food trucks; some of the anti-competitive laws and the Institute for Justice has identified involve laws pertaining to preventing certain operating hours or distances from brick and mortar competitors, these protectionist laws do not help protect public health or safety, instead they stifle entrepreneurship, destroy jobs, and hurt consumers by raising prices and giving them fewer choices; enacting rules to protect some businesses from competition isn’t just wrong, it is unconstitutional. He stated both the US Supreme Court and numerous federal courts have upheld that it is illegitimate for state and local government to pass laws that burden one set of businesses in order to benefit another more politically or powerful group and he said the case laws could be recited either publicly or privately. He looks further to the future discussion on the food truck Ordinance and asked when it would take place. Dr. Armstrong said because of concerns and other issues, the meeting would be held, but that it has not been set yet.
4. Mr. Michael Ward spoke about business and economic development. He said there are issues where every job has at least 3 qualified applicants and as it goes there will be ratios of 5 to 1. He said what he is about to address and talk about he feels may step on some Christian toes, but to let the record show that he too is a Christian. Mr. Ward continued by asking that the city look at bringing casinos to Monroe. He said thousands of dollars has left Monroe by going to Shreveport, Tunica MS, Vicksburg and that we are missing out on revenue; he agrees that the Civic Center is a good idea as long as it won’t interfere with traffic flow and businesses that are already established; he agrees that the crime rate must be dealt with and asked how can this be done without adding cost to the city budget; he said federal grants need to be looked at; he gave the definition of the term chief and said what he has seen from reading in the paper about the police matter is that Chief Holmes may need to eat some humble pie and get his fellow officers, his family to trust in him again and that you can’t do battle if your family is falling apart.
5. Mr. Ted and Annie Murray spoke about the decline of the community. She expressed how buildings are empty, overgrowth of grass, people moving in properties without any electricity or water, there are inoperable cars in the neighborhoods; she stated these are old issues but to add to these issues are (she understands trains are vital to the community and do know that they are to blow at crossings) but the trains are blowing in the train yard and they bring their engines before crossing at Texas and sit for about thirty minutes and this is around 1 or 2 am in the morning; she wanted to know if this is allowed, she said her foundation of her house is being shaken by the train. She has witnessed the canal emptied by individuals with trash. She said neighbors were coming to Council meeting tonight, but they did not come because they felt nothing could be done and hate to think this because she is a tax payer. Mr. Clark asked that Ms. Murray get with Ms. Robinson, Code Enforcement after the meetings.
6. Ms. Earline Bryant spoke about the sagging pants issue and said it needed to be taken care of because we should not want this image if a convention, etc. were to come to Monroe. She said this type issue was taken care of in Winnsboro, Thibodeaux, small cities, but they are clean cities. She stated a gentleman called her who works at the recreation center and said he was not satisfied; he works as a supervisor but is not getting supervisor’s pay; she spoke with Mr. Ross about this gentleman who works at Saul Adler Recreation Center.
7. Ms. Erlanda Chisley asked how is Monroe and Calhoun affiliated; she thought the food trucks were for Monroe. Mr. Clark said as it was proposed by Dr. Armstrong that it is for the City of Monroe.
There being no further business to come before the council, the meeting was adjourned at 7:17 p.m., upon motion of Ms. Blakes and seconded by Mr. Wilson.
Mr. Eddie Clark
Carolus S. Riley
*For extended details on the council meeting please call the Council Clerk Monday-Friday at
329-2252 to schedule an appointment to listen to the minutes tape.