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Council enacts burn ban inside city limits

by Dolores Hamilton
Iowa Park is again under a ban on outdoor burning within the city limits. This comes on the heels of the burn ban enacted last week by the county.

The city council took action to enact the burn ban in its meeting Monday night.

City manager Mike Price said residents can still barbecue in the backyard if they have a fire extinguisher or water hose on hand nearby.

The following temporary restrictions shall apply for the use of combustible materials in an outdoor environment:

Individuals grilling, smoking or cooking in an outdoor environment must meet each of the following requirements:

cooking appliances must fully contain any and all combustible material and must have a metal covering (mesh-type or expanded metal type coverings are prohibited);

cooking appliances must be attended at all times when combustible material is contained within;

when cooking appliances are in use, either a 25-pound working fire extinguisher or 50 feet of charged water hose with a spray nozzle must be present;

all cooking appliances,when in use, must be placed on a non-combustible surface extending two feet beyond each side of the appliance; and

upon completion of the cooking process, all fuel gas valves to the appliance must be closed and other combustible materials within the appliance must be immersed or saturated with water before said appliance is left unattended.

Individuals welding, cutting or grinding metal in an outdoor environment must meet each of the following requirements:

1) the welding, cutting or grinding process must involve a minimum of two individuals and the second person must maintain a vigilant watch over the area where the welding, cutting or grinding is occurring.

combustible materials, including grasses, brush and weeds, within a 50 foot radius of the work area will be removed before the welding, cutting or grinding process begins;

welding, cutting and/or grinding is strictly prohibited when any wind is in excess of 15 miles per hour; and

when welders, cutting torches and grinders are in use, either two 25-pound working fire extinguishers or 150 feet of charged water hose with a spray nozzle must be present.

These restrictions shall remain in effect until repealed through ordinance by the city council. Violations will be punishable by a fine not to exceed $1,000.

The auditing firm of Mathis, West, Huffines Group was selected to provide the city’s auditing services for the next five years.

Proposals had been received from three firms, and representatives from two of them were at the meeting.

During the discussion prior to the selection, Councilwoman Sherrie Williams questioned Paul Fleming,the representative from Edgin, Parkman, Fleming & Fleming that had done the city’s audit for the last five years.

Referring to errors in the city’s bookkeeping that came to light last year, Williams said, “We’ve had some difficulties recently, and in your opinion should those mistakes have been found sooner than they were?” “It depends on what you mean by mistakes,” he answered. “A lot of things were always found on time and recorded in the books for each audit we did.” Fleming said that some of the things accumulated but the changes were not made.

“I had asked you during one of the audits about the bank reconciliations not being done in a timely manner, and you said that wasn’t uncommon in smaller cities. Do you still stand by that?” Williams asked. “In some cities that is common, but it depends. For it to go more than a month or two, no that is not common, and that’s why in the letters to you during the audit we noted that reconciliations were not being done in a timely manner,” Fleming replied.

Charles Salter, with Mathis, West, Huffines, had been asked by the city to look at the books when the problems were discovered. Williams asked him if had found anything that should have been caught. “Of the accounts we looked at, there were a number of them that had mistakes and a number with procedures such as bank reconciliations that hadn’t been done, in some cases for several months,” he said. “There were a lot of things that should have been done that hadn’t been done that I think the rest of the city staff assumed they had been done, but with the previous employee,” he added. “It caused a number of accounts to have incorrect balances, not reporting the right information to you on a monthly basis.”

City Manager Mike Price told the council that auditors don’t look at all transactions, but primarily at the process by the city. He said it is the job of himself and the finance director to see that things are done correctly. “Some of the problems are our responsibility, and when they say these things need to be done, they are being done,” he said.

Council member Lori Shierry said, I think we need fresh eyes (for the audit) and maybe every five years we should switch.

The owner was not present for a public hearing to determine if the 1989 Chevrolet sport utility vehicle, located at 109 W. Garden, should be abated in accordance with junked vehicle regulations in the city’s Code of Ordinances.

The vehicle’s registration and inspection stickers are both expired.

The council gave the owner 45 days to take care of the problem.

The General Fund budget was amended to transfer notes payable funds for the purchase of a police patrol cruiser and a dump truck and document the use of lease/purchase funds from J.P. Morgan Chase for use in the purchase of the cruiser and dump truck.

Price gave the quarterly report on the city’s current financial condition and future needs. He said the General Fund is in good shape, with 93 percent of the projected revenue received, and sales tax revenue is up.

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