The giving season may be approaching for some but for others including the city of Vilonia it is on hold.
Thinking it was a charitable act, three older model trucks, a 1984, a 1988 and a 1990, not being used by the Vilonia Fire Department were gifted to other local fire departments with which the fire department has mutual aid. The city received a letter recently, Mayor James Firestone told the Vilonia City Council Tuesday night, saying there was a state auditing problem regarding those donations.
“The vehicles have not been disposed of,” Firestone said “They are sitting in our parking lot and will remain there until we find the proper way to get rid of them. “
The Vilonia Fire Department, Firestone said, had no need for the trucks and it was believed giving them to other fire departments who could use them was a charitable act as well as covered by law because of the mutual aid agreement between the departments.
Voicing a sense of confusion concerning any wrong doing, the council accepted the 2012 audit findings. At Firestone’s request, the council also approved a procedure spelling out the rules for disposing of unwanted city property which requires requests in writing from department heads, reasons for disposals, plans for disposals, discussions in public meetings and council approval. Firestone said he will contact the city attorney and “work out the details and get it all straight.”
“We will do better in the future and not have this come up again,” he added.
Fire chief Keith Hillman said a couple of the trucks do not run. And, one of them, Hillman said, was at the East Cypress Fire Department when Vilonia took over the operation a few years back. That truck, Hillman said, was given to the East Cypress Department by the city of Ward.
“It is on our asset list but we have never had the title to it,” he added.
In other business:
• The council approved spending $3,800 for striping on South Church Street running to the bypass.
• Gave a nod of approval to the Vilonia High School East Lab to paint and mark some storm drains in the city. East Lab advisor Erin Rappold addressed the council along with students Austin Tiner and Ford Richmond making the request. In the technology class, Rappold said, students are encouraged to research and develop community service projects. Painting the drains and stenciling them as places with “no dumping allowed,” the students said, may prevent some water contamination.
The council’s approval carried stipulations the students must wear safety gear and work under the supervision of a city employee. The council also approved the purchase of a few gallons of paint and brushes for the project.
• Firestone outlined the preliminary sequence of events regarding the issuance of bonds that will follow the passage of the bond issue on the Sept. 10, ballot. The sanction allowed the city to continue collecting a half-cent sales tax that was originally approved in 2005, under a sunset clause, and was set to be retired this month with the paying off of the construction on the city hall.
The bond pricing will be completed by Nov. 11, and bonds will go on sale Nov. 13, Firestone said. A special meeting has been set for Nov. 14, for review and passage of an ordinance accepting the bonds. The city should receive the construction funds by Dec. 17, Firestone added.
The tax collections will be dedicated to park and recreational improvements which will include four additional softball fields, seven soccer fields, parking and a concession stand with utilities, on land previously purchased by the city, located on North Mt. Olive.
It is estimated the softball and park facility will cost about $1.5 million and not exceed $1.750 million including the debt service reserve fund.