Fort Smith, Arkansas

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Transparency grading process

Portions of this article were taken from Wikipedia

Fort Smith is a city in the state of Arkansas. It is the second-largest city in Arkansas and one of the two county seats of Sebastian County. With a population of 86,209 in 2010, it is the principal city of the Fort Smith, Arkansas-Oklahoma Metropolitan Statistical Area, a region of 298,592 residents which encompasses the Arkansas counties of Crawford, Franklin, and Sebastian, and the Oklahoma counties Le Flore and Sequoyah.

Website evaluation

See also: Evaluation of Arkansas city websites

Last evaluated September of 2012.

The good

  • Meeting schedules, agendas, and minutes are posted.[1]
  • Budget documents and financial audits are published.[2]
  • Names, email addresses[3], and telephone numbers[4] are provided for members of the Board of Directors.
  • Key administrative contact details are posted on individual department webpages.
  • Building and zoning information is posted.[5]
  • Bid solicitations are posted.[6]
  • Tax rates are posted.[7][8]
  • Information on how to file a public records request is provided. The Public Information Officer also provides an address, phone number and email.[9]

The bad

  • Contracts are not listed.
  • Taxpayer-funded lobbying details are not posted.

Budget

Total expenditures included in the FY 2012 budget are estimated at $221.5 million. Total funding sources are estimated at $363.8 million.

Summary of total resources:[8]

Source Percent of Total
Intergovernmental 3.5%
Licenses and Fees 29.1%
Taxes and Assessments 20%
Court Fines and Forfeits 0.6%
Service Charges and Fees 16.6%
Bond Proceeds 0.4%
Prior Year Fund Balance 23.5%
Transfers In 5.5%
Misc/Contributions/Bond Proceeds/Interest 0.8%
Total Resources $363,823,948

Summary of total uses:[8] Summary of total resources:

Source Percent of Total
Operating 44.7%
Capital Improvements 30.1%
Debt Service 15.6%%
Health/Workers Comp 4.1%
Community Assistance 0.8%
Pension/Retirement 2.9%
Others 1.8%
Total Uses $221,468,969

Public employees

Elected officials

Current members of the Board of Directors include:[3]

Name Position Ward Term Expires
Steve Tyler 1 1 12/31/12
Andre Good 2 2 12/31/12
Rev. Don Hutchings 3 3 12/31/12
George Catsavis 4 4 12/31/12
Pam Weber 5 At-Large 12/31/14
Kevin Settle 6 At-Large 12/31/14
Philip H. Merry, Jr. 7 At-Large 12/31/14

The current Mayor is Sandy Sanders. His term expires on 12/13/14.[3]

Administrative officials

The City Administrator is appointed by the Board of Directors and is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the city government. The current City Administrator is Ray Gosack.[10]

Salaries

2012 pay schedules are posted online by the Human Resources department.[11]

Pensions

All uniformed police and fire personnel participate in the Arkansas Local Police and Fire Retirement, administered by the state. City contribution rates are set actuarially each year. District Court Judges and District Court Clerks are members of the Arkansas Judges Retirement System and the Arkansas Public Employees Retirement System, respectively. As the result of a 2007 agreement, all three judges became employees of the state. The current employer contribution rate for the clerk is 12.54%. All other full-time employees are members of a 401 (a) contribution plan administered by the International City Management Association Retirement Corporation (ICMARC). The City contributes 10% of pay to each employee's account.[8]

Lobbying

Information is not provided on taxpayer funded lobbying.

Taxes

The City's current total sales tax rate is 9.25%. The source of the tax is:[7]

Source Percent Tax
State of Arkansas Sales Tax 6%
City of Fort Smith Tax 2%
Sebastian County Tax 1.25%

Of the City's 2%, 1% is dedicated for streets, drainage and bridges. The remaining 1% is for redemption of the sales and use tax bond issues.[7]

Other taxes include a 4% utility franchise fee, a 3% hotel/motel tax, and a property tax millage rate of $0.70 per $100 of assessed value.[8]

Transparency & public records

File an FOIA Request As city administrator, I am a firm believer in transparency and openness in government. The City of Fort Smith is eager to comply with Freedom of Information requests, as provided by Arkansas state law. The Arkansas Press Association has an excellent handbook available that makes the law clear for citizens requesting information and for those of us responsible for meeting or exceeding the requirements for complying with the citizen’s request.

Paper copies of existing documents are available for inspection and can be reproduced for 25 cents per page. The preferred media for meeting requests for large amounts of documents is CD, DVD, or a jump drive.

In many cases, citizens may prefer to simply inspect the documents where they are stored and earmark which, if any, digital or paper documents they wish to take with them.

If you have an FOIA request, please contact Wendy Beshears at 479.784.2201 or FOIA@fortsmithar.gov. She will route your request to the appropriate department for fulfillment of your request.

External links

References