Fort Smith City Boss Director’s assessment still pending

Although a formal mid-year review of the Fort Smith City Administrator has yet to take place, at least some members of the Fort Smith Board of Directors are considering goals for the remainder of the year. , with progress being made on the remaining consent decree at the top. .

City of Fort Smith Administrator Carl Geffken’s mid-year exam, originally scheduled for July 12 and moved from this council meeting to the next council meeting, was pushed back again to Tuesday, July 19 . Still, some administrators gave their thoughts on things they’d like to see the City’s administrative team focus on through 2022.

“City administration has been successful in using a collaborative approach and including many stakeholders to resolve a number of issues so far in 2022,” said manager Lavon Morton.

Geffken provides directors with a list of accomplishments, director Robyn Dawson said, noting that directors then have the option to ask her about these or other items as needed during the evaluation process. The list, she says, serves primarily to remind board members of things accomplished since its last assessment.

LIST OF PROJECTS
This year, Geffken’s list includes 25 accomplishments that have sprung up in the city with the help of private and public actors, including passing sales and use tax, planning a park for Replacement Dogs, the Economic Development Projects of Owens Corning and WeatherBarr, and the Foreign Army Sales Project. The city also completed work on a new road for the Owens Corning plant and received a federal economic development grant of nearly $1.7 million to help pay for that road, Geffken’s list noted. .

Other city-focused accomplishments include sidewalks on Rogers and Phoenix Avenues; rolling out Payit so customers can pay city utility bills; the timely completion of the 2021 audit without any findings; Creekmore Park Improvements; hiring a mobility coordinator, a director of information technology and a director of solid waste; completion of a new waterslide at Parrot Island Water Park, completion of the John Bell Jr. Inclusive Park; continuing work on the city’s new website.

“I must say that I am satisfied with the achievements for the city and for the citizens,” said Dawson. “There was a focus on what the board said they wanted to do. We now have all the department head positions filled with quality people, and I think that helps the city tremendously. »

For the remainder of the year, Dawson and Morton agreed progress needed to be made on the consent decree.

CONSENT DECREE
In an election on May 24, Fort Smith voters extended two sales tax extensions that will pay for federally mandated sewage system upgrades, a $23.87 general increase in police salaries %, the needs of firefighters and current and future park improvements.

After years of not keeping water and sewer infrastructure up to federal standards, the city entered into a federal consent decree with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the federal Department of Justice at the end of of 2014. The consent decree required the city to earn approximately $480 million. value of sewer upgrades over the past 12 years. Due to inflation and the state of the city’s sewer system, this figure is estimated at over $650 million.

Geffken noted in the list of accomplishments that the city “awaits what should be positive responses from the appeal to the Eighth Circuit regarding the need to fulfill 4s and 5s under the Consent Decree and Trial for the trial of recycling”. An attempt by the city to remove the Category Four and Five lines, which utilities manager Lance McAvoy says may not need repairs for many years, has been blocked by the judge in U.S. District PK Holmes III in August 2021. If that decision were to be overturned on appeal, it could save the city between $100 million and $150 million.

A grade 5 driving segment is described as one that “has failed or will likely fail within the next five years.” The pipe segment requires immediate attention. A class 5 manhole is described as a manhole where “a failure has already occurred or is likely to occur”. A class 4 pipe segment is described as a segment that “exhibits serious defects with a risk of failure within the next five to ten years”. A Class 4 manhole is described as having visible cracks, deterioration or deformation. In comparison, class 1, 2 and 3 pipe segments and manholes have less serious defects.

Morton said he would also like to see all aspects of the ongoing construction of the water supply line in the city considered. He would also like to see the administration do more to tackle flooding on the north side of the city; examine if and how abandoned residential structures can be dealt with; and the continuous improvement and enhancement of the city’s financial reporting and related transparency.

“Of course, we need to secure the flight training project…and continue to recruit new industries while supporting our existing new businesses. We also need to be sure and do whatever support is necessary to help AR-DOT facilitate the completion of the new 1-49 bridge and freeway,” Dawson said.

Ebbing Air National Guard Base at Fort Smith, home of the 188th Wing, was selected in 2021 by Acting Secretary of the Air Force John Roth to be the long-term pilot training facility. term supporting F-16 and F-35 fighter jets purchased by Singapore, Switzerland and other nations participating in the Federal Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program. According to the tentative schedule, Ebbing will receive the F-16s from Singapore in 2023 and the F-35s in 2025.

It is estimated that the center would house 345 US service members and bring to Ebbing or Selfridge more than 180 members of the Singapore unit and approximately 300 dependents.

A final decision from the Air Force on the location of the training center is pending.

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