PB City Council Meeting (8/18/2014)
The Poplar Bluff City Council welcomed new City Manager Heath Kaplan at the conclusion of his first day on the job, and also took care of a number of pieces of city business Monday evening.
As it happened, his first day on the job was also Kaplan’s birthday. After being serenaded with a rendition of “Happy Birthday” by the council members and crowd at the meeting, Kaplan, thanked the citizens of Poplar Bluff for his warm reception. Mayor Angela Pearson greeted Kaplan, and also thanked interim City Manager Mark Massingham for his service to the community.
Council Votes NO on Property Tax Increase
Kaplan admitted his first day on the job had been very busy. One of his first items of business had been to look at a recommendation for setting the city’s property tax rate. His recommendation was to keep the rate the same as last year, .63, with .53 designated for the city’s general fund, and .10 designated for the city’s police and fire pension funds.
He explained that generally a tax rate increase would only be recommended if either home values were decreasing or rate of inflation increasing too rapidly. While there has been a slight increase in inflation, Kaplan did not feel at this time it was enough to warrant an increase in the rate.
“I think we want to be economical and efficient,” explained Kaplan. He felt with some care at controlling costs, the city council could be good stewards of the money with which the taxpayers have entrusted them.
During the public hearing on the subject, one resident did express the opinion that the city could do a better job of increasing revenue through enforcing current ordinances, such as the littering and noise ordinances.
When the matter came to a vote during the business session of the meeting, the council unanimously voted to keep the tax rate at the current .63 level.
Councilman Tinsley Apologies For October 2013 Facebook Post
During the Citizen Input portion of the meeting, Tommy Robinson, pastor of the Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, which is in Ward 5 of the city, expressed concern about a Facebook post made by City Councilman Peter Tinsley. The post had posted negative comments about President Barack Obama.
Robinson felt the comments were disrespectful to President Obama and to many people in the Poplar Bluff Community.
“I don’t think his comments were representing the people of Ward 5 appropriately,” said Robinson.
Tinsley responded with an apology.
“I apologize from the bottom of my heart,” said Tinsley. He added that the post was from some time back, and he explained that the comment had come from a time of a different perspective, when he was a delegate for the Republican Party for the area.
Robinson said he accepted Tinsley’s apology, but would like to see the post in question removed from Facebook, and that he would also like to see a public apology on the part of Tinsley to his constituency.
Tinsley said he intended to comply with that request.
He did. Tuesday morning, Tinsley posted the following comment on Facebook.
I am writing in response to Monday night’s city council meeting. As promised I have deleted the offensive post from October of 2013. Also as promised I sincerely apologize from the bottom of my heart the offense that I brought to the fine people of Ward 5. I have worked extremely hard to represent the people of Ward 5 and hear their needs. Anyone that knows me knows I do not have a prejudiced bone in my body. I believe we are ALL created by God and are all His children. The post was directed at our healthcare system. I did not view it as racist at the time but in light of the views expressed tonight I see how it could be taken that way and for that I do apologize.
That said, in searching for this post I had to review my timeline over a considerable time and I must admit it made me feel good. I ask you to take a minute and look at Peter Tinsley’s personal timeline. I feel good about a lot of the things I am involved in. I had to search through a lot of GOOD stuff before I came to a few posts that I have removed that were over the top. But, all in all I feel good about the vast majority of the activities I am involved in.
Let me assure you Peter Tinsley does not post items on Face book that are racist or that I intend to offend people. I do try to post items of interest and items with a message I believe needs to be heard. Yes, some of my post may be a little hard to swallow but if you really step back and look objectively they are to better our world.
I do want to thank all the people that came out Monday night to show support for their feelings. It is my uppermost wish that we have a council that the citizens feel they can come express their concerns. The only way we can work together and move forward is to communicate.
Again, I do apologize for offending anyone and it is my prayer that we can move past this and do what is best for all the people of Poplar Bluff.
God Bless You!!!!
Cleaner Streets Requested
A clean-up of another sort was requested by Jennifer Rogers, a mother of two small children, who complained that on a recent walk through Poplar Bluff’s Ward 5 area, she was appalled to see needles and condom wrappers on city side walks. She explained that she had moved from Poplar Bluff, and then recently returned with her children to live here.
“I used to be very proud to say I lived in Poplar Bluff,” commented Rogers, adding that seeing that type of dangerous trash on a city sidewalk was very concerning.
Mayor Pearson agreed that she is also very concerned about cleanliness issues around the town.
“But I am glad people feel comfortable bringing these matters of concern to the city council,” commented Pearson.
Southern Bank Employee Asks City Manager For Clarification on SEMO.net & Shelby Road
In other public commentary, an employee of Southern Bank, Aaron Decker, sought clarification on the judgment against SEMO.net. City Attorney Robert Smith said he’s asked the judge to make that determination.
A question also arose as to the Shelby Road project, its condition, and who was responsible for the cost overruns involved in it. City Manager Kaplan explained that topic, too, is still under study. Kaplan stated that he’s spoken to the engineers on the project because he does not believe that Shelby Road is safe in its current state.
Other City Business
A review of bids for consulting services with regard to the Kinzer and Cynthia Street Historic District Project was discussed. The project involves a $22,000 grant to study the historic district, which includes 57 structures that might be eligible for grant funds.
A name was submitted for serving on the city’s Fair Housing Board, Andrew Murphy. The council is to vote on the submission also at its Sept. 2 voting session.
Council Tabled Agreement With Smith & Co’s Fair Street Bridge Project
An ordinance in the voting session was addressed by City Manager Kaplan regarding the Surface Transportation Program funds being used on the Fair Street bridge as proposed by Smith & Co engineers. Kaplan suggested that the council be provided a complete list of all roads which qualify for STP fund usage before choosing to expend them on the Fair Street bridge. Councilman DeGaris asked if this would cause any danger to the community, Kaplan stated that the bridge is in jeopardy of being downgraded for weight reasons from its current 11-ton capacity, but it had been explained to him that there is no danger of the bridge collapsing at this time.
The video of the meeting is already available online: