Res­i­dents voice bud­get thoughts dur­ing ses­sion

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - HICHAM RAACHE Hicham Raache can be reached by email at hraache@nwadg.com or Twit­ter @NWAHicham.

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.

NWA Demo­crat-Gazette/HICHAM RAACHE

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.

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