City Approves Land Purchase
(Editor’s note: report taken from a video recording of the meeting)
— The city of Farmington now has land for a new public works building.
Farmington City Council voted last week to purchase seven acres of land from Farmington School District. The property is along Broyles Street in the northwest corner of undeveloped land next to Williams Elementary School.
Farmington School Board accepted an offer from the city at its Feb. 26 meeting. The city will buy the land for $157,000 or $22,500 per acre.
Mayor Ernie Penn said the location is close to Creekside Park which will help with maintaining the park. It offers ingress and egress on an improved street.
The city already has a design plan for a new public works building and this design will fit in the Broyles Street location, Penn said in a memo to City Council members.
Contract details show the seller will provide a survey to the city so a lot split can be approved before the transaction closes. The seller will provide owner’s title insurance and the buyer will pay for any other costs associated with the transaction.
Farmington will request a water tap from the city of Fayetteville and a septic system will be used for disposing of wastewater.
After quite a bit of discussion, the Council unanimously approved an ordinance to allow the city business manager and mayor to make purchases up to $20,000 without the approval of the city Finance Committee.
The new policy is in accordance with a new state law that gives more authority to city officials in making purchases. Previously, the city Finance Committee had to approve any purchases from $10,000 to $20,000.
The ordinance states the mayor and business manager must act jointly in making these purchases but makes an exception if one of them is unavailable because of illness or other temporary incapacity if “prompt action” is needed to make a purchase.
For any purchases over $20,000, the city will be required to seek competitive bids. The city manager or mayor will be able to approve one of these bids upon approval from the Farmington City Council.
Several Council members said they still would like to know what purchases are made each month that fall within the $10,000$20,000 range. City Business Manager Melissa McCarville said she would provide this information on her monthly report to the Council.
Penn said having to get the Finance Committee together to approve purchases from $10,000-$20,000 is inefficient, especially “to do something we know we’re going to do.”
He added, “We either need to get efficient with our business or forget it.”
The Finance Committee’s only job is to approve such purchases and therefore will be dissolved as a committee.
City Attorney Steve Tennant pointed out to Council members that state law allows the Mayor to make these purchases on his own. State law also allows the mayor to approve bids on his own. Farmington has always put in another layer of accountability, Tennant said.
In other business, the Council approved a $25,000 appropriation to Farmington Senior Center. Of this amount, $10,000 will be dedicated to the center director’s salary, $5,000 for a part-time van driver and $5,000 to hire an instructor for the Silver Sneakers program.
Council members also approved $40,000 for a new 2018 Dodge Charger for the police department. The vehicle is in the 2018 budget.