City Council Meeting - 2.13

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

February’s first city council meeting began with department head reports. Library Director Shasta Hochstrasser updated the mayor, council, and those in attendance about the plethora of activities and groups taking place at the library.

Fire Chief Mark Moore shared that the full-time firefighter position was in the interviewing process after receiving 6 in-house applications. He also provided further information regarding a fire that took place on Friday, Feb. 10, in the county just a few miles outside of Mountain Home. The fire was fully involved and resulted in the loss of one dog and two cats.

Police Chief Jon Thompson mentioned an upcoming community outreach event taking place in late April, and noted that applications have been coming in following the posting of job openings within the department. It was also noted that the “State of the City” address will be shared in early March.

Moving on to the consent agenda, a motion was made to pull action item F and item L, both of which pertain to the allocation of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to the water and fiber optics departments. The latter item, item L, is a resolution permitting the purchase, issuance, and sale of Local Improvement District (LID) No. 1 Bond Anticipation Note. A lengthy discussion and discourse was held to clarify what approval of these items would mean, especially for the affected constituents. Amidst the lengthy discussion, Councilwoman Garvey made a motion to table the action item until the council and community had time to attain more clarity regarding potential outcomes and alternatives to approving the allocation of ARPA funds. Councilman Brennan seconded and voted in support of Councilwoman Garvey’s motion, but with Councilman McCain and Councilman Green voting against the motion, Mayor Sykes provided a tie-breaking nay vote, effectively killing the motion. This led to Councilwoman Garvey encouraging the other council members to reexamine the decision, and look into alternative projects that the ARPA funds (which are intended to provide for areas and residents of the city who have been “left behind” for water, sewer, or fiber services) could be used for in lieu of fiber for the residents within the LID. Councilman Brennan expressed his opinion that it is important to take extra time when researching and making such large decisions. Ultimately, a motion was made to approve the requested allocation and to pass the resolution, facing the same divide as the previous motion, Mayor Sykes once again provided a tie-breaking vote of approval.

Public comment followed, in which two members of the public addressed the mayor and council.

First, a woman approached to discuss concerns about the proposed casino project, at one point saying, “Gambling is not a victimless crime, it is like prostitution”. The woman expressed concerns about crime, water access, and employment that she believes may follow the implementation of a casino.

Next, a man spoke to the mayor and council regarding his desire to update portions of the city parking ordinances. He complained of RVs and other trailer-type vehicle attachments, especially those with “slide out” functions. He raised concern about the level of danger created by slide-out capable attachments that impede road and sidewalk space, especially at night time.

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