City attorney cautions council about use of emergency clause

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Jonesboro city officials are reaching out to the city council to make sure a certain clause is not being enacted too often.

The emergency clause makes an ordinance take effect immediately but should be reserved for special cases.

The city council should only be passing the clause in the event of an emergency affecting the public health, safety, and welfare.

The clause was enacted fairly often by city council 10 years ago.

City Clerk Donna Jackson said the unofficial figures for 2007 show the clause was passed 47 times versus just 23 times in 2017.

City Attorney Carol Duncan said even though the number is much lower than in 2007, she is still cautioning the council to avoid using the clause for individual emergencies.

"We need to know if it's a true emergency and, if it is, please tell us what it is," she said.  "Otherwise let's not put this on just standard, which I think is the right thing to do and then we didn't see as many for a long time. "

She said in many recent cases when the clause was used the council's hearts were in the right place.

She added no public objections were made about the clause being enacted for individuals.

She said the clause should still be reserved for public emergencies and the city council has been addressed recently about the issue.

Examples of the right time to pass an emergency clause would be an immediate need for more police cars or deadlines for a federal grant.

Duncan said it's not likely that the clause being enacted could put the city of Jonesboro in legal trouble, but she wants the council to be cautious and avoid overusing the clause.

Copyright 2018 KAIT. All rights reserved.