CodeRED in question in Bryant

During the Bryant City Council meeting Tuesday, an issue about CodeRED came into question.

Alderman Randy Cox, who recently announced his candidacy for mayor, asked Mayor Jill Dabbs why residents were not notified about a recent boil order via CodeRED.

Cox said he received several calls from residents who said they called City Hall about the service and were told it was canceled.

"People's lives were jeopardized," Cox said. "It's a public safety issue."

Dabbs said she told the council, during budget workshops at the start of the year, that the emergency notification system had been removed from the budget.

Cox then gave all the alderman a copy of emails he received from a CodeRED representative.

In the email, Jill Mason, a CodeRED account representative for the state, wrote: "We never shut the city off. We never threatened to turn the city off. We felt we were working with the city of Bryant and it would be resolved in the best interest of the city."

According to the emails, the city's contract was renewed on Jan. 1, 2014, but on Jan. 8 Dabbs called to get information about a lower price. Then on May 14, Dabbs called wanting to cancel the account.

Mason told The Saline Courier that the city still has active pass codes for use and CodeRED is trying to work with the city. She said she could not release specific information about the city's account or payment.
Council members also asked if the city has any outstanding bills from the company.

Following the meeting, Dabbs said the city received a bill by mistake, but that the charge was forgiven by the company.

According to Dabbs, the council decided to cut funding for the city's CodeRED because the county sends emergency notifications. Bryant still has an account because the city is in good standing with the company, she said.

"I could have used (CodeRED), but they would have expected me to pay for it," Dabbs said.

And she says a boil order is not considered an emergency.

Mason disagreed, saying a boil order may or may not be considered an emergency, depending on a city's protocol, and she pointed out that most cities in Arkansas consider it an emergency.

Currently the county offers weather warnings that are unlimited and some other notification including burn bans and road closures.

All such notifications must be approved by his office, according to County Judge Lanny Fite.

Boil orders are not included routinely in these notifications, he said.

Dabbs said CodeRED has been "on the back burner," but at the next council meeting she plans to ask that it be returned to the budget.

"I will ask council to provide funding for CodeRED," Dabbs said. "We have the funding. Council took it away and council has to give it back."

Cox said he would "absolutely" vote to put the service back into the budget.