Residents voice budget thoughts during session
SPRINGDALE — Residents shared their opinions with city leaders on how the city’s 2018 budget should be shaped.
The first of two budget input sessions was held Thursday at City Council Chambers at the City Administration Building, 201 Spring St. The second input session will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. today.
Around 13 people showed up for the event. City department heads were present to discuss resident opinions.
“For me right now, it’s about getting a sense of how the city’s using the funds,” said Lucas Smith, a oneyear Springdale resident who learned about the event through Twitter. “I don’t have a set agenda, but I would like to be more involved, and thought this would be a good place to start.”
Harriet Neiman, who has lived in Springdale for 31 years, had one pressing concern: the city’s animal shelter.
“I’m a volunteer there and I know it’s a very needy shelter, and the people who work there work very hard, are very devoted, are conscientious about what they do and need help,” she said.
Neiman said she doesn’t want the shelter to receive just a small number of improvements, but rather an entirely new facility.
“Why wish for a loaf of bread when you can wish for a grocery store,” she said.
Residents have frequently mentioned the city’s animal shelter during past sessions, Melissa Reeves, the city’s public relations director, said last week.
The shelter has 53 dogs and 85 cats, said Courtney Kremer, shelter director. Those numbers don’t include the cats that hang out in Kremer’s office and the ones up for adoption at Pet Smart, said Kremer, who was at the session.
The shelter has around 48 cages for large dogs and about 50 for cats, and sometimes they have to be doubled up in cages.
City leaders hope to include a new animal shelter in a bond issue that will be put to voters next year. Wyman Morgan, the city’s director of finance, estimates residents will be asked to vote on the bond in February or March. City leaders hope the shelter will be among many projects in the bond issue, which also likely will include a Criminal Justice Complex, renovation 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, said Morgan.
Randy Bush has lived on Crestwood Street for 13 years, and he came to the session to express his concern about speeders in his neighborhood.
“They speed from Pin Oak Drive to McRay Avenue,” Bush said. “It’s a long street. They hit the stop sign and see how fast they can get to the other end.”
McRay said the speed limit is 25 mph in his neighborhood, but many motorists drive through faster.
“I want them to put speed tables out there, but nobody likes that idea,” he said.
Police Chief Mike Peters said he will send a traffic unit out to the area to do a study.
“We’ll set up a traffic counter box and it will give us the number of vehicles, their speeds and the time of day, and we’ll use that data to go out and do enforcement,” he said.
Members of the Fire Department were also on hand to speak with residents.
Fire Chief Mike Irwin said last week he doesn’t expect his department’s 2018 budget to be much more than the budget 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 expense his department will need, Irwin said.
Total city budget expenditures for this year are $ 55.8 million; they were $55.2 million in 2016.
Randy Bush (left) of Springdale speaks Thursday with Police Chief Mike Peters (center) and Mayor Doug Sprouse (right) about speeders in his Crestwood Street neighborhood. Bush was one of several residents providing feedback about the city’s 2018 budget during a session at the City Administration Building.