After an hour of discordant debate and lectures about spending authority from Council Member Christopher Franklin to Mayor Kevin Smith, the Helena-West Helena City Council finally gave approval to the spending authority necessary to fix leaks on Oakland, Stringtown Road and Plaza Street, all on state highways with large traffic counts.

After an hour of discordant debate and lectures about spending authority from Council Member Christopher Franklin to Mayor Kevin Smith, the Helena-West Helena City Council finally gave approval to the spending authority necessary to fix leaks on Oakland, Stringtown Road and Plaza Street, all on state highways with large traffic counts.
Smith began the presentation on the water leaks by discussing the one on Stringtown Road, which is also State Highway 185, saying, “Because of the seriousness of the leak and the amount of water we are losing, I asked them to go ahead and proceed.”  Smith later said the water loss at that spot was hundreds of gallons per day.
Franklin responded with a question to City Attorney Andre Valley.  He said to Valley, “This is supposed to come to us, right?  Help me out with that.”  Valley responded, “You know the Mayor’s spending authority is $5000.”
This set off a set of exchanges between the council and Smith with Franklin taking the lead with exhortations to Smith that included, “Don’t’ be a Facebook Mayor!” and repeatedly saying, “You have to come to us.  You have to come to us.  You have to come to us.  I am talking slow because I want you to get it.”
After Council Member Wanda Crockett asked about the process for determining which leaks received priority and an urgent plea to fix a leak at Adams and Franklin Street that had been there for six years, Smith replied, “All of these leaks were on state highways that have special procedures and high traffic counts.  We were also losing a large amount of water which costs a lot of money and the Stringtown leak was an emergency because it was causing the tank level behind Wahl to drop and that serves the hospital.”
Engineer Ken Weiland noted that the estimated cost of fixing the three leaks could approach $50,000.  Valley drew up an ordinance during the meeting that authorized spending of up to that amount and waiving competitive bidding.  The council ultimately passed it 5-0 and declared an emergency.