El Dorado News-Times
Smackover Mayor delivers his first State of the City address
Smackover Mayor Donald Brock delivered his first State of the City address during the city council’s regular monthly meeting on Monday, March 13.
Brock, who began his first term as mayor in January, told the council and attendees about ongoing and future potential projects in Smackover. He began with a report on finances, stating that the previous administration left the city in “excellent condition financially.”
Next, Brock discussed efforts to re-align the city and the Smackover Chamber of Commerce.
“I met with the Chamber two weeks ago, and we’re going to try to get them started back up where the city and Chamber can work together. [Annual festival] Oil Town and anything like that requires a lot of help. We want to get that started back, get the community back involved in that,” Brock said.
Brock also mentioned upcoming events including Trade Days, which is currently set for April 1, before moving to an update about street re-paving efforts.
“I have applied for some state money on road paving, [but] haven’t heard back from them yet. There’s another program that the State of Arkansas is doing, if you have a state highway going through your town they’ll come in and re-pave and re-finish it, but after that it’s a city street and would be our responsibility,” Brock said.
“We’re looking to get some paving done this summer, when it warms up,” he continued.
Next, Brock discussed the Smackover Library.
“[UCPLS director Michael O’ Connell] has had to cut all the [library] branches by 25%, and that affects our library… I know Mayor [Jim] Crotty in Norphlet has stepped up with the city to help make up the hours cut. I’m still trying to do some number crunching on that and see where we can go, but that may be something we need to consider in the future,” Brock said.
A .6 millage increase was rejected by voters who live outside El Dorado in Union County in November, a measure that would have increased the Union County Public Library System’s total budget to around $900,000. The system’s 2023 budget is $624,405, according to a report from the Union County Public Library System Board’s March meeting.
Brock also said that he has been discussing a potential raise for city Public Works employees with Public Works director Jason Waxley.
Several other items of new business were also addressed during the meeting.
Ronneesha Williams, a local resident who runs the Smackover Youth Foundation organization, requested use of a city-owned building that previously served as city hall for her club’s meetings.
Williams said the organization encourages its K-12 student members to “get together, hang out at the basketball court, do fundraisers and things in the community as well, [like] trash pick-up.”
“This year we ran into the situation where we can’t tutor or meet during winter or times when it’s raining. We’re trying to see if the Smackover Youth can meet at the [old] city hall on cold days or rainy days,” Williams said. “We provide everything - food, games - we just need somewhere to meet.”
Brock said that currently the building - which for the last two years has hosted Kay and Paul Smith’s Christmasville display during the holiday season - is being renovated for community center use.
“We are in the process of getting climate control - heating and air - and getting it cleaned up. We’re trying to get it fixed back up as a ‘community center,’ if you will. I personally don’t see any problem with it; we are currently working up a user agreement to be signed, as far as how you can use it and cleaning up afterwards,” Brock said.
Brock asked for an update on air conditioner repairs at the building from Waxley, who said the latest update is that a part for repair had been ordered.
In reponse to council questions, Williams said the club normally meets several times weekly.
“When it’s time for tutoring we meet Monday, Tuesday [and] Wednesday… We try to meet two or three times through the week in the summer,” Williams said.
Council member Mark Corley asked about the scope of the repairs needed in the building before it can open as a community center.
“[Waxley] and I walked through it and looked, it looks like the biggest part is getting climate control fixed and cleaned up. The short answer to [Williams’] question is - we’ll take this under consideration but until we can get it in a situation where there’s no tripping hazards, we can’t afford to let anybody in there right now. But it sounds like to me it’s a good idea you’re doing,” Brock said.
More information about the Smackover Youth Foundation can be found on their Facebook page.
City recorder/treasurer Rick East also delivered the yearly audit report to the council. The audit was performed by EGP PLLC.
“On the audit, it was the same thing we have every year about combining the water [and] sewer, but other than that, everything else was good [and] it was a clean audit,” East said.
The report states that city Ordinance 472 requires that the “municipal water system and the municipal sewer system, operated as separate entities, be combined into a single integrated system,” continues by noting that the systems are currently operated separately and concludes that the systems should be integrated or that Section 2 of Ordinance 472 should be rescinded.
A response from the city in the report states that “it is not feasible to combine the water and sewer systems as a combined system” and goes on to say that the systems are combined for “annual reporting purposes.”
The city’s response concludes that “discussions are in the works to pass an ordinance to rescind Ordinance 472 in order to keep the water and sewer systems separate entities.”