The El Dorado City Council will consider a budget amendment to address derelict properties during a regular meeting at 5:30 p.m. today in the Council Chamber of City Hall.
Alderman Vance Williamson convened a specially called meeting last week to address the issue after learning that some vacant houses are now being used for illegal dogfighting and other acts of animal cruelty.
El Dorado police, Union County Animal Control Officer Charles Hartsell, and employees with the Department of Public Works reported the recent discovery of a dog with its head severed in a vacant house at 707 Louisiana.
Other signs of dog-fighting were evident throughout the house, they said.
The house, which was immediately razed after the gruesome discovery, had been on the city’s condemnation list for 18 months, Williamson noted.
El Dorado police, public works employees and residents have long complained that dilapidated, abandoned homes contribute to neighborhood blight, pose public health and safety problems and are havens for criminal activity, which now includes dog-fighting.
After a lengthy discussion, city officials called on the police, fire and public works departments to come together to tackle the problem.
They also agreed to consider a request by Mayor Frank Hash to take $300,000 from the city’s reserve coffers to help city crews catch up on razing structures that have been condemned by the city.
Robert Edmonds, director of public works, and Kirby Craig, city code enforcement officer, said city crews have gotten behind on the process because of other projects, including preparations for the grand opening of the Murphy Arts District last fall.
Hash said the money could be used to hire a contractor to help take down the structures and complement work that is done in-house by city crews.
The council is also expected to revisit a vote against joining a state effort to fight opioid abuse by pursuing legal action against companies that manufacture and distribute opioid medications.
Aldermen voted last month not to participate in the mass effort.
Alderman Billy Blann has since asked that the item be placed back on the council’s agenda, saying that he had rethought the issue after speaking with a local family who is dealing with opioid drug addiction.
Also on the council’s agenda today is a proposed ordinance that allows aldermen to do business with the city.
The council previously addressed the matter by acting on an ordinance that applied to businesses owned by relatives of aldermen Williamson and Mary McAdams.
However, aldermen learned that the ordinance had not actually been approved because it was placed on third reading but did not go through final passage.
Tia Lyons may be contacted at 870-862-6611 or firstname.lastname@example.org.