Latest Actions of Your City Government with Code Enforcement and Public Safety
Time for a couple updates.
Relative to code enforcement, we have had a Code Enforcement Officer on board for several months now, but a couple of other things had to fall in place before we could start any enforcement actions. The easy part was obtaining all the necessary forms and defining the processes we must follow. That is now in place. The more difficult and important issue was having the ability to enforce our ordinances in District Court. After consulting with Judge Ramsey, we opted to enter into an agreement with Eureka Springs to share in the cost of operating their Department in the District Court. We now have that agreement so we can now issue citations for failure to abate code violations. Going forward, if there is a code violation, the Code Enforcement Officer will make contact with the resident or property owner, advise them of the violation, and give them a deadline by which they must correct the situation. If it is not corrected, a citation, or summons to appear in court, will be issued. Our intent is to work with people that demonstrate a willingness to comply. We have no intention of being heavy handed or unreasonable and we don’t plan on “snooping” around searching for violations. However, since we are attempting to address only the most egregious violations at this time, we will use the courts if necessary to gain compliance. We have a list of properties for which we have had numerous complaints. Those will be our priority and enforcement action will begin immediately.
Additionally, the City has engaged Clint Scheel from Berryville as our Prosecuting Attorney. Mr. Scheel is the prosecuting attorney for several cities in Carroll County including Eureka Springs.
Starting in January, the city is taking over the deputy contract with the County and the Sheriff’s Department to provide for the deputy patrolling in Holiday Island. The new contract will be for two deputies. We strongly feel that we need more patrol hours each month for better traffic control and we need for the deputy on duty to have back up in situations where it would not be safe for a deputy to act alone. We would like to think that we don’t have those types of situations in little old Holiday Island. Unfortunately, we do and we will have more in the future if we don’t have adequate patrolling as a deterrent to undertaking illegal activities in the city.
As a possible next step in police protection, the City Council voted in the November meeting to look at the possibility of staffing our own police department. Fortunately, we have some local talent with significant experience in law enforcement who are willing to help us define the requirements for setting up a department as well as determining the up front cost for vehicles and equipment and the ongoing operating costs. Once we have some of this basic information, it is my intention to have a town hall meeting to solicit input from the community as to what you would like to see long term. I have spoken with the County Judge Elect David Writer about this and he is supportive of which ever direction we decide to go. The decision could impact whether we add the second Sheriff’s Deputy or use those financial resources to begin to staff our own department. There are several advantages in us having our own police department which we will cover in the Town Hall meeting.
Lastly, I would like to thank all the City Council Members who committed to two more years of service to the city. And I welcome Barb Kuhn as our new 6th member. The council members volunteer hundreds of hours of their time. Their efforts, advice, and council are very much appreciated.
I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas and I wish the best for Holiday Island in 2023.