MAYFLOWER — The wastewater improvement project is back on track in Mayflower after aldermen gave the OK to pay the engineers heading the corrective action plan needed to make ADEQ-required repairs and avoid fines.
The Mayflower City Council voted 5-0 (with alderman Andrew Pelkey absent) Tuesday evening in favor of paying a CWB Engineers, Inc. invoice to keep the project moving along. The city could not move forward with the project last month because the council did not have a quorum to vote on the financial matter – an invoice for $452,400.
The ADEQ previously agreed to waive a fine of at least $6,000 should the city council agree to move forward with the city’s corrective action plan as it was previously ordered to do so. Mayflower was ordered to create a corrective action plan and make repairs to its wastewater treatment facility after several discharge monitoring reports (DARs) indicated numerous violations in recent years. DARs are conducted in accordance with the federal Clean Water Act and the Arkansas Water and Air Pollution Control Act.
A review conducted on April 21, 2020, showed the wastewater treatment facility had logged its largest increase in violations since 2015. According to the ADEQ’s consent administrative order issued against Mayflower, the city saw 29 violations – one carbonaceous biochemical oxygen demand violation, one dissolved oxygen violation, one total suspended solids violation, 10 fecal coliform bacteria violations and 16 ammonia nitrogen violations – between Aug. 1, 2019, and Feb. 29, 2020.
Officials believe the historic 2019 Arkansas River Flood further damaged the already in-need-of-repairs wastewater treatment facility.
Now that the council has voted to pay engineers, Mayor Randy Holland said the city can move forward with the wastewater improvement project.
In other business, a resolution opposing a county sales tax reallocation proposal was not supported by the Mayflower City Council.
Currently, the county has a one-half percent sales and use tax that is split 50/50 among the Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office and the county roads fund. The Faulkner County Quorum Court on Aug. 18 passed a resolution and an ordinance to have residents determine the fate of the tax during the 2020 election on Nov. 3.
Should Faulkner County residents approve the tax reallocation proposal, the tax would instead be split among the sheriff’s office, county roads fund, for 911 services and toward animal control/shelter. The proposal would reallocate 60 percent of the tax collections for the sheriff’s while the county road fund would see 35 percent of the money. The animal control/shelter and 911 would each get 2.5 percent of the funding.
Mayor Holland announced before the vote that he and other mayors across the county were against the proposed tax reallocation.
According to the resolution placed before Mayflower aldermen, the sales tax relocation “could dramatically impact Mayflower” and its ability to work alongside the Faulkner County Road Department in matching funds for various projects.
“[The] City of Mayflower and Faulkner County have enjoyed a productive relationship and have partnered to complete important projects like the improvement of Main Street to Baker Wills Parkway, aided with the parking area for the new city center, and Faulkner County has pledged $1.5 million for the upcoming Hwy 89 overpass project,” the proposal reads in part, adding that “every mayor in Faulkner County has agreed and has signed a letter stating their strong opposition to any proposal that would be advanced by the Faulkner County Quorum Court that would divert voter-approved sales tax dollars dedicated for roads.”
The proposal to oppose the ballot item did not receive enough votes to gain the city of Mayflower’s support. Aldermen voted 2-3 toward the resolution opposing the sales tax reallocation, with aldermen Jennifer Massey, Brian Williams and Mark Hickman voting against it.
Williams said he did not support the resolution because he does not believe it was appropriate for the city council to oppose an issue the Faulkner County Quorum Court has already decided to put before Faulkner County voters.
“I have concluded that it’s a political play to use us as leverage in order to sway votes. I think it’s a slap in the face to the Quorum Court. We elected them, they voted and placed it on the ballet,” Williams said following the meeting. “I think asking me to use my seat as your city councilman to vote on this is unethical and an abuse of our Council. I voted no, I do not support opposing this tax reallocation.”
Before it adjourned Tuesday evening, the Mayflower City Council also voted 5-0 in favor of amending a previous maintenance of real property and unsanitary environmental conditions ordinance to keep residents from placing certain items by the roadway more than a week before sanitation pickup. The ordinance was amended to also state: “(No) bulk, foul, or rotting items shall be placed curbside for garbage pickup more than one (1) week prior to scheduled pickup.”