Springdale wants budget feedback
Community members can interact with city department heads
SPRINGDALE — Community members will have the opportunity this week to speak with local leaders and help shape the city’s 2018 budget.
Budget input sessions will be held Thursday and Friday at the City Administration Building.
“Every year we adjust our budget to meet the current needs of the city,” said Melissa Reeves, public relations director for the city. “After we have the budget input session and we compile that
information, we have a better idea of what the budget will look like.”
Community members can interact with city department heads during the input sessions and discuss how city money should be spent in 2018.
The city has held budget input sessions since 2000 when it mandated public meetings be held in July regarding city needs.
Budget input meetings have had consistently low turnouts. Around eight to 10 people was the highest number of residents who showed up for past sessions, Wyman Morgan, director of finance and administration, said ahead of last year’s meetings.
The city made a concerted effort last year to increase attendance. Around 13 people attended last year’s Wednesday evening meeting.
Residents frequently mention the city’s animal shelter when giving feedback during budget input sessions, Reeves said.
“This is an issue we have been working on for a while, but it was crucial to know that the public is supportive of that project,” she said.
Brian Jaure, co-owner of Shelby Lynn’s Cake Shoppe at 118 W. Emma Ave., said
a larger animal shelter is a worthy project.
“We’ve adopted pets ourselves, and having talked to the shelter. We know they’re crunched for space,” Jaure said.
The shelter had 57 dogs and 95 cats as of Friday, said Courtney Kremer, shelter director.
“We’re really full. We got probably 48 cages for big dogs and probably 50 cages for cats,” Kremer said. “We’ve got some dogs that came in together that are doubled up, which is why we have room for that many, and cats too.”
City leaders hope to include a new animal shelter in a bond issue that will be put forward to voters in 2018. Morgan estimates residents will be asked to vote on the bond in February or March. City leaders hope the animal shelter will be among many projects in the bond issue, which also likely will include a Criminal Justice Complex, renovations to the administration building, two to three new fire stations, a northwest park and road improvements.
The bond would be a continuation of a sales tax the city levied in 2004, Morgan said.
Morgan said Thursday city leaders will work to keep the coming year’s expenses close to this year’s numbers.
Total budget expenditures for this year are $55.8 million; they were $55.2 million in 2016.
City leaders have not started working on the 2018 budget, Morgan said.
“That’s why we have input sessions from the citizens to get comments before we start work on the budget,” he said.
The city’s goal in 2018 is to give $1 million in step increase raises to city employees, Morgan said. The city has more than 500 employees and is not looking to create any positions in 2018, he said. However, he said the city will likely look to create positions in 2019 to staff three new fire stations and a new park in the city’s northwest section.
Fire Chief Mike Irwin does not expect his department’s 2018 budget will be much higher than the budget submitted for 2017. The Fire Department submitted a $12.6 million budget for 2017.
A rescue truck valued between $350,000 to $375,000 will likely be the only major new expense his department will need, Irwin said.
“We’ve outgrown the one we have,” he said. “It’s a 1994, so it’s probably ready to be replaced anyway.”
Irwin brings his department’s budget requests to Morgan and Mayor Doug Sprouse at the beginning of the year.
“We prioritize our list and work our way down,” he said. “They’re all needs, but we have needs at the top that are more urgent than what’s at the bottom.”