The Hope City Board met Tuesday, March 3 for their first of two monthly meetings. After the meeting was called to order, Josh Williams, from the Hempstead County Bicentennial Committee, requested to be added to the agenda for the meeting on March 17 to present the Hope Bicentennial sign to the Board. Mr. Williams stated that they will be ready to install the signs in late March and he wanted the board to see it so they could start thinking about where they would like to place it. Each Board Member received a copy of the proof of the sign and agreed to think of suggestions on where to place the sign and make a decision at the next meeting.
Catherine Cook presented a video to the board of the Arkansas Municipal League’s new initiative Be Local, Be Heard. The campaign, which encourages the continuation of local control and retaining of local control for cities supports that local residents know best what their cities and towns need, vs. other people. Cook instructed the board on how to access the web site and additional materials available from the League.
Catherine Cook stated that the ½ cent sales tax for highway and road improvements throughout the state is due to sunset in 2023. Of this tax, 70% goes to the state, 15% to counties and 15% to cities, so the city would lose about $250,000 per year if the tax is not continued. The Arkansas Municipal League has requested that all cities in Arkansas pass a resolution supporting HJR 2018, which would amend the Arkansas State Constitution and establish the sales tax as a permanent part of the funding for the ArDOT. Director Mark Ross made a motion to approve the resolution and the board voted to approve.
City Manager, Catherine Cook, updated the board on Census 2020. She stated that banners, both in English and Spanish, have been placed throughout Hope and each home in Hope should be receiving a flyer with census information in the mail. They have been posting on facebook and will be working with the local media outlets to encourage citizens to participate in the census. They have reached out to the schools to see if they can send a letter home with students and plan to reach out to local churches for this to be announced in the bulletins. Cook stated that they have reached out to the library to make sure that citizens that don’t have internet access will be able to use the computers. Director Coffee asked if citizens needed to be directed to the city with any questions they may have and Cook responded that as soon as they see the official census form and staff is familiar with how to fill it out, then yes, they will be able to answer questions from the public. Mayor Montgomery asked if the Census organization would still come to the area. Cook responded that they will be able to track the responses they receive and if response is low, they will come sometime in April to assist. Cook stated that she thinks they have a good method in place to get the word out about the census and have shared their plan with the county so everyone can work together on stressing the importance of the census. Director Coffee stated that the city should make points on their facebook page explaining why it is important and what the census is used for. Mark Ross suggested that the FFA Rodeos were coming up and signs could probably be placed there, Cook made note and stated that they could probably place them at the D-Mac Tournament as well.
Catherine Cook updated the Board on several ongoing city projects. AT&T and Centerpoint have said that they will complete the utility relocation on the 6th street project by the end of March. Cook met with ADEQ on the landfill and stated that the engineer will have to revise the plan, but the concept will stay the same. The final paperwork is being completed on the playground grant and they are working on closing that out now. Cooks stated that the board needs to decide if they want to apply for another state playground grant and she will find out if that can be done before they finish with the current one and bring it before the board if it is possible. Summer Powell is in the process of looking at potential projects for another outdoor recreation grant. Cook met with the college on Tuesday about the sign for the pavillion. The college still thinks that they can fabricate whatever is needed for the sign. They are working on concepts and will send 2 or 3 different ideas to look at.
Director Coffee asked for an update on streetscape. Cook stated that they are working on the plans. The Atwoods lot has been bought, the city has the title insurance. Atwood’s is preparing the deed and they want to have the closing at the title office. Cook stated that the city is ready and waiting on Atwoods to finish on their end.
Director Mark Ross asked if they can check the electrical outlets downtown before train days to make sure everything is working correctly. Cook stated that they will look into it.
Cook advised the board that the advertisements for bids on construction at the landfill and fair park have been sent out and they should start receiving bids on those soon.
The next Hope City Board meeting will be held on Tuesday, March 17 at 7:00 pm at the City Hall.