Special City Council recap: Oct. 30, 2015

A special meeting of the Fayetteville City Council began at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2015 inside room 219 of the City Administration Building, located at 113 W. Mountain St. in Fayetteville.

Listed below are the items up for approval and links to downloadable PDFs for more information on each item of business.

Roll Call

Present: Adella Gray, Sarah Marsh, Mark Kinion, Matthew Petty, Mayor Lioneld Jordan, Justin Tennant*, Martin Schoppmeyer*, John La Tour*, Alan Long*
Absent: None
* Tennant, Schoppmeyer, La Tour, and Long arrived after the roll call, but before discussion began.
» View current attendance records

Unfinished Business

1. Fayetteville Fire Pension and Relief Fund Proposal to Consolidate with LOPFI (PDF): An ordinance transferring administration of retirement coverage for eligible members of the Fayetteville Fire Pension and Relief Fund to the Arkansas Local Police and Fire Retirement System (LOPFI) and authorizing the mayor to enter into an irrevocable agreement with LOPFI and approving an emergency clause.
Fail 8-0

Notes: City Attorney Kit Williams said he still believes it would be unwise for the City Council to agree to this proposal, reiterating his belief that a judge could one day rule that the city was extending credit to a third party.

Williams said if the Council wants to ask voters to raise taxes to cover the depleting fund, he recommended doing so in the next general election, not during a special election. He said state law is vague in describing when a vote on an issue like this could take place, but said it’s very clear that it could occur during a general election.

Pensioners who spoke said other plans in the state have merged with LOPFI and none have been challenged in court. They said it might cost the city some money now, but eventually the 51 pensioners and their beneficiaries will die and no more funds will be needed.

Alderman La Tour said his duty as an alderman is to “guard the public purse” and that this proposal would be “bad business,” comparing its approval to writing a blank check. “Let the people decide,” said La Tour, adding that he would prefer a public vote to possibly raise taxes to cover the fund. “If the people want to tax themselves, that’s fine.”

Alderman Kinion said he wasn’t prepared to approve the current proposal because it “places all the authority on an outside organization but all the risk on the Fayetteville taxpayers.”

Alderman Long suggested tabling the issue until the next enrollment period in April to give the council more time to research the issue and get an opinion from the Attorney General on the legality of consolidating with LOPFI.

Alderman Tennant agreed with Long, and said more information could help the council make a better decision not only for the firemen’s pension, but also for the policemen’s pension, which is also expected to soon be depleted.

Alderman Petty said it’s easy to say that other cities haven’t been sued when times are good, and that when the next recession hits, anything could happen. He said consolidation must eventually occur, but added that without more information, the council can’t make a good decision tonight.

Alderwoman Marsh said she’d prefer to see the issue voted down and to start fresh with a new proposal in April instead of tabling the current item.

The council eventually agreed with Marsh, despite a motion to table the issue by Alderman Long, which failed 3-5, with Gray, Tennant, and Long voting in favor.


This meeting was adjourned at 6:50 p.m.