Board bids farewell to Smith, Johnson and Beers
The city board convened for its final meeting of the year on Tuesday at the Siloam Springs Public Library.
Two items requiring action were on the night’s agenda, both were unanimously approved. The first was to confirm the reappointment of Jim Krall to serve another term on the Regional Airport Authority Board of Directors.
The other item for the board’s consideration was the approval of a guaranteed maximum price for renovations that are underway for Fire Station No. 2. The board approved CR Crawford Construction to oversee the project during their April 17 meeting and the guaranteed maximum price that was approved was $1.6 million, according to a city staff report.
These things aside, it was a Christmas-themed, upbeat meeting, with many board
members sporting ugly-Christmas sweaters and a meal was provided afterwards. This was also the last meeting for Ward 1 Director Steve Beers, Ward 3 Director Frank Johnson and Ward 4 Director Amy Smith, who will be replaced at the beginning of next month by incoming members Mindy Hunt, Marla Sappington and Lesa Brosch, respectively.
City Administrator Phillip Patterson delivered his administrator’s report following the board’s regularly scheduled agenda items, which included an update on the city’s October finances and a reminder that declining sales tax revenues should return to normal amounts in January once the city begins collecting two percent on transactions again, instead of 13/8 percent. Patterson also prepared a report that detailed things that the city, across all departments, has achieved or improved upon in 2018. Patterson provided the document to the Herald-Leader on Dec. 19, some of the highlights are:
• The “Water Reuse” project at the wastewater treatment plant has allowed the city to save 99.8 percent on the water bill. The water bill in 2017 was $175,582 and this number fell to $356 in 2018.
• The city is recycling at a higher rate, with a 6 percent increase from 2017, or 73 tons.
• Work orders for the maintenance of city equipment have decreased by six percent and repair costs have decreased by 15 percent, or $31,000.
• More than 6,300 feet of water mains and 640 feet of wastewater mains were either replaced or extended over the year.
• Property maintenance code violations are up 24 percent, from 1,319 in 2017 to 1,641 in 2018.
• Court fines have increased by 27 percent, or $55,000, when compared to last year.
• City employees participated in the “Walktober” program earlier this year, and the winner walked more than 460,000 steps in a month. In total, participating city employees walked about 1,300 miles. The city also had a “Biggest Loser Contest” to encourage healthy lifestyles among city employees, where a total of 324 pounds were lost by 58 participants.
• Repairs were done on a total of 480 street lights.
• New electrical services for 150 different businesses and entities were installed.
• City workers spent more than 4,000 hours trimming trees back from electrical lines.
• The fire department fought 70 fires and 97 percent of property and building contents were recovered, which equated to more than $7.75 million worth of property.
• Training hours at the fire department increased 21 percent, averaging 569 hours per person.
• The “crime clearance rate,” which is percentage of crimes solved by the police department, was 81.5 percent for the year; the national average is 34.5 percent.
• Drug-related arrests increased by 45 percent.
• Reports of stolen property decreased by 48 percent, reports of vandalism and/or criminal mischief decreased by 38 percent, reports of breaking and entering decreased by 31 percent and reports of theft have decreased by 42 percent.
This was followed by director’s reports, all of whom expressed appreciation for the city staff and their efforts to make these things possible. For the three members whose time on the board is coming to a close, it appeared to be bitter-sweet.
Johnson began by noting his attendance record at the meetings during the last four years. He said that serving on the board is one of the most important things he’s done in his life and that he’ll always cherish the relationships he’s established during his time there.
Smith went around the room and individually addressed each member of the board, Patterson, Mayor John Turner as well as City Clerk Renea Ellis. She expressed gratitude for the special skills that each one brings to the table and encouraged them to keep up the good work. She ended by saying that her time on the board has given her a different outlook on the ways that the city functions, and said that she wished every member of the community had a chance to see things “from this view” so they could share this perspective. On a similar note, Beers explained that his time on the board has dramatically increased the amount of pride he has in Siloam Springs.
“I don’t know that I understood four or five years ago exactly how the city worked, and all of us know when you become part of something you get to see the inside, the workings of what goes on,” Beers said. “I can tell you after four years, I am so much more proud of our city today than I was four years ago, and I was pretty proud of it four years ago. So I say that to thank the team up here, the folks who work day in and day out at the water department, the police department, the fire department, finance, whatever it is, you all deserve a standing ovation, so thank you for all the hard work day in and day out. … The only other thing I’d say is, I don’t know if I’d say it’s a challenge, but just a thought to leave you with.
“I haven’t done a ton of rowing, but I have done a lot of canoeing, and if you’ve ever been in a canoe with somebody who’s not going the same direction you are, it is a disaster, you actually spend way too much energy. But I think I can say the board, in my four years on it, I feel like we’ve paddled in the same direction. We’ve had discussions about where we should go but everybody put their paddle in the water and pulled hard. I am so thankful for that and I want to encourage and pray that that continues, because it’s when we work together that we move forward.”
The city board final meeting of the year took place on Tuesday at the Siloam Springs Public Library, and for three members, it was the last meeting altogether. The evening consisted of a light agenda that was followed by some friendly discussion about they’ve accomplishments made over the last four years and what the experience has meant to the three who are on their way out. Above, Director Steve Beers asks a question of Phil Jones from CR Crawford Construction, the firm overseeing the renovations that are underway for Fire Station No. 2. Seated to the left of Beers is City Clerk Renea Ellis, followed by Director Brad Burns; Director Frank Johnson; Director Amy Smith; City Administrator Phillip Patterson; Mayor John Turner; City Attorney Jay Williams; Director Reid Carroll; Director Carol Smiley; Director Bob Coleman.