BPD reports traffic accidents down, A & P tax refunds approved, and more discussed at Batesville City Council meeting Tuesday night

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The regular business of the Batesville City Council was heard Tuesday evening at the Batesville Community Center and Aquatics Park.

Batesville Police Chief Alan Cockrill started the meet off with sharing his department’s reports from March and April and noted that traffic accidents were down significantly in April (11 accidents) compared to March (31 accidents) due to fewer drivers out during the current COVID-19 situation.

City Engineer Damen Johnson followed with his report. Johnson shared things are on-track with the Eagle Mountain water tower resurfacing project, and he is hopeful the completion is approximately 45 days away.

Chief Brent Gleghorn of the Batesville Fire Department was given the council’s approval to make a deal on a 2015 pumper truck to replace the current 1992 pumper truck if the used truck is in appropriate condition to purchase.

Gleghorn will be viewing and testing out the truck on Thursday to see if it is potentially an investment worth making. The pricetag of 2015 pumper truck roughly $100,000 less than a new truck.

Crystal Johnson, CEO of the Batesville Area Chamber of Commerce, and Tourism Director Kyle Christopher presented an update on the tourism industry and discussed with the council the consideration of abating and refunding Batesville’s A & P tax temporarily for February and March.

“We’re coming off a weekend where Batesville School District was supposed to graduate, Lyon College was supposed to graduate, and undoubtedly every single one of our hotel rooms would’ve been full… We knew we’d have a great weekend. Instead, many of our hotels were left with single-digit hotel rooms [occupancies] over the weekend… The financial impact is enormous… I would argue that the lodging industry may be one of the hardest-hit industry’s in our community through all of this… We want to support them during this unprecedented time,” Christopher said.

The council went on the unanimously adopt a resolution for the temporary abating and refunding of the Batesville A & P tax. The refunds will vary by establishment based on the amount of taxes collected.

Councilmembers also approved an airspace lease for the new construction for First Community Bank’s expansion at 14th and Harrison Streets for a sky bridge that will connect the main branch to the new structure.

Also, the Batesville Community Center and Aquatics Park has reopened to the public and operating within direct guidance of the Arkansas Department of Health. Many changes have been made to allow for proper social distancing and more, and some amenities remain closed until they can safely be reopened for use.

Mayor Rick Elumbaugh closed with sharing the importance of Census participation. Currently, the city of Batesville has had a 60.3 percent response rate.

The Batesville City Council will meet again on June 16.

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