MOUNT CARMEL — The Mount Carmel Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted 5-2 Tuesday to spend no more than $7,000 for a new message board sign to be installed at the front of City Hall for announcing upcoming events.
Mayor Larry Frost told the Board there is money in the budget for the new sign, but it required a budget amendment ordinance, which was approved on first reading Tuesday with Aldermen Leann Debord and Carl Wolfe opposed.
For several years there was a message board between Main Street and Highway 11-W in front of City Hall that announced city meeting dates, recreation schedules and other municipal events.
A couple of years ago, that old sign wore out and had to be removed. Since then, the BMA has been debating how to replace the sign.
One idea discussed prior to Mayor Frost’s election in November was a digital message board estimated to cost $15,000.
Frost told the BMA Tuesday that $15,000 is too expensive for a sign, but he believes a new message board-type sign with removable letters is needed to keep local residents informed.
Last month, the sign issue was tabled to give board members time to ask their constituents if they want a new sign. During the past month the town utilized the public library sign behind City Hall which can be seen best by motorists heading north on Hammond Avenue from Main Street.
Vice Mayor Paul Hale said the only comment he received was from a resident of the Ponderosa subdivision who said he doesn’t travel on Hammond Avenue and wouldn’t be able to see the sign. That resident said he would prefer a sign visible from 11-W, Hale added.
The city recreation department recommended placing a new sign in front of City Hall to make it easier for residents to see the dates and times for various activities and league registrations.
Wolfe said he believes rather than spend $7,000, the town should continue using the old Library sign behind City Hall.
One argument Frost made in favor of the new sign was that it would alert local residents to city meeting times. Debord said there are no fewer people attending city meetings now than there were when the old sign was up in front of City Hall.
The ordinance will require approval of a second reading before the new sign can be purchased and installed.
In other business Tuesday, the BMA:
•Heard a report from Mayor Frost that no changes will be made to the road surface on the dangerous curve where 13 accidents occurred in 2012 near 830 Hammond Ave. Frost said no accidents had occurred there since police began writing warning tickets and using a stationary speed monitor.
“Speed is the factor, and I don’t think the city needs to spend any money over there to resurface the road,” Frost said. “We’ll just continue to do what we’re doing, leave the speed monitor over there, and let the officers do their job.”
Frost added, “If you slow down there’s no problem. If you go through at 50 mph there’s a problem.”
The speed monitor sits beside property owned by Alderman Wanda Davidson. She said it’s an eyesore and asked if it would be there “for eternity.”
Mayor Frost said at some point in the future he would like to place a permanent street sign leading up to the dangerous area warning motorists to slow down. The speed monitor will remain for now, Frost said, and the BMA will review its status in a couple of months.
•Approved the second and final reading of an ordinance repealing the town’s ban on liquor sales to allow liquor by the drink sales in properly zoned areas as mandated by a voter referendum on Nov. 16, 2013.
The board also approved the second and final reading of an ordinance setting beer sale hours to coincide with liquor by the drink hours regulated by the state. Those hours ban beer sales 3 a.m. to 8 a.m. every day except Sunday when it’s banned 3 a.m, to 10 a.m.
•Approved the first reading of an ordinance changing the BMA meeting date and time from the fourth Tuesday of each month at 7:15 p.m. to the fourth Thursday of each month at 5:30 p.m.
Last month, the BMA voted down the mayor’s proposal to change the date and time to the fourth Thursday at 7 p.m.
Frost said the new date and time is needed to cut down on overtime. The state comptroller’s office requires the city recorder and a city finance officer to attend BMA meetings, and under the current schedule they receive about three hours of overtime each month. Frost said the change will save the town about one and a half to two hours overtime for each employee per month.
Davidson suggested setting the time at 6 p.m. to make it easier for working people to come to meetings after they get off work. Mayor Frost asked board members to make a motion amending the start time, but none were made.
“When you look around at some of the other cities (when) they have their meetings, some of them are at 5:30 (p.m.) and some of them are 10 o’clock Saturday morning,” Frost said.
“If somebody wants to attend a meeting, I think they would make arrangements to come if it’s that important. I wouldn’t have a problem if it was 5 p.m. and someone said 6 p.m., so I decided to split the difference.”
•Heard a report from Mayor Frost that maintenance director Johnny Castle is currently evaluating public streets to determine which need to be paved. Frost said there will be paving this year and the board will be discussing those projects at a later meeting.
•Scheduled the first budget workshop for Tuesday, April 16, at 6 p.m.
•Approved the application of new volunteer firefighters including Carley Bledsoe, Williams Mullins, and Tyler Peters.
•Heard a report from Mayor Frost that the town had received a letter from Mount Carmel Elementary School thanking it for the police presence at the school.