Fayetteville BOMA to consider $5 million bond issue, audit, extension of Chandler Thinks contract

The Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 Audit, the $5 million bond issue, the extension of Chandler Thinks contract and recognition of city employees and retirees will be on the Board of Mayor and Aldermen’s agenda at the Tuesday, Dec. 8 meeting that begins at 5 p.m.

 After Dan Hancock with Putman & Hancock CPAs gave an overview of the FY20 Audit at the December 3 work session, Mayor Michael Whisenant moved it to Tuesday night’s agenda. The audit included two letters to the board and 138 pages detailing the city’s expenditures, capital assets, balance sheets for the city, school system, utilities and sanitation, etc. Without going over the entire audit, Hancock stated that page 2 of the audit explains what’s in the report; pages 3-4 gives an opinion on the city and pages 5-11 gives an overall summary of the balance sheets and required communications.

 One of the letters gave recommendations of audit findings that the board needs to address, such as purchasing a $15,000 sewer pump without going through the bid process and paying an employee 100 percent sick pay without proper approval that also went against the city’s employee policy. Another recommendation is how the city administers grants. Hancock said the city doesn’t have proper control of these monies and each grant should be handled separately to show when and how the dollars are used.

 The board is expected to approve a three-month extension of Chandler Thinks’ contract for an additional $15,000 to be paid from the Urban Development Act Grant (UDAG); the contract will end March 31, 2021. The city signed a contract with Chandler Thinks in August that ends December 31, 2020, to promote tourism to Fayetteville. In addition to banners advertising Slawburgers, Whiskey Trails and the heritage surrounding its past, Chandler Thinks has developed a social media page that will be linked to the city’s new website.

 Mayor Whisenant said he has heard “lots of positive feedback” and “we don’t want to lose the momentum” of [Chandler Thinks’] work.

 The board will vote on the $5 million bond issue without any discussion, according to City Attorney John Hill who told board members during last Thursday’s Work Session that he had conferred with Margaret Moore, MTAS’s (Municipal Technical Advisory Services) Roberts Rules of Order expert, after questions were raised regarding the vote at the November meeting. During discussion at that meeting, Alderman Danny Bryant called for the question and five of the six aldermen voted yes. After reviewing the video, it was determined that vote wasn’t to approve the bond issue; the vote was to end discussion and call for the question. Thus the need for the bond issue to be back on the agenda.

 During the Work Session, Alderwoman Donna Hartman asked if the board could discuss the $5 million debt the city was about to take on. Previously she had questioned who determined and decided what projects would be included since the board only received a copy of the list, “as a draft,” during a previous work session when she and the mayor weren’t present. She questioned why lighting for the new soccer complex was included in a bond issue that spanned 20 years and why public restrooms weren’t addressed, especially after being recommended in Chandler Thinks reports and the city’s Master Plan. Alderwoman Tonya Allen said restrooms haven’t been discussed in any meetings and Alderman Roger Martinez said “bathrooms aren’t essential,” adding that store owners could let people use their bathrooms. He said as a previous business owner, he always let the public have access to his restroom.

 “Have you talked to the current business owners are the square?” Hartman asked Martinez. He said he had not.

 The mayor said that the issue of public restrooms could be addressed in the future when municipal building upgrades are being considered. Vice Mayor Danny Bryant said security upgrades would depend on cost and how the work could be done. “In the brief discussions, downstairs public restrooms might be a design problem,” he added.

 Hartman said her main concern, about the bond issue, is that the board, as a whole, never sat down to discuss these projects.

 Vice Mayor Danny Bryant then gave a detailed report on how the bond issue had moved through different committees, such as Public Works, Parks & Recreation and Finance, during the past six months and who was present during each of those meetings. He said these projects are not a “wish list,” but addressed long overdue infrastructure projects.

 “The State Comptroller’s Office says what process we need to go through,” Bryant said. “We have gone through all the proper channels.”

 The projects include drainage issues around Norris Creek and the Terry Addition, and other areas around the city, sidewalks around the square, soccer field drainage and lights, and paving priorities for an estimated cost of $4,289,996, which does not include closing costs.

 Due to COVID-19, the city is foregoing its annual Christmas banquet, which always includes presenting Employee Service Awards, Distinguished Service Awards and recognizing employees who are retiring. Therefore, these awards and individuals planning to retire will be recognized at the Board of Mayor and Aldermen’s meeting.