FORT SMITH, Ark. (TB&P) — Almost 37% of the more than $684.821 million 10-year capital improvement plans for Fort Smith’s water and sewer system is related to federal consent decree requirements, with those requirements estimated to cost $31.42 million in fiscal year 2020.
Such are just some of the proposed 2020 budget numbers the Fort Smith Board of Directors will discuss with city staff Tuesday (Oct. 29) during a study session.
After years of failing to maintain water and sewer infrastructure to federal standards, the city entered into a federal consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency in late 2014. The consent decree requires the city to make an estimated $480 million worth of sewer upgrades over the course of 12 years. Funding for consent decree work has come in part from water and sewer bill increases, which are up 167% since 2015. Funding for water and sewer work also comes from bonds supported by sales tax revenue and revenue from wholesale water buyers.
“The funding is a mix of bond proceeds from the 2018 bond and pay-as-you-go capital. Pay-as-you-go capital is funding from revenues that exceed operating expenditures,” Fort Smith City Administrator Carl Geffken noted in a statement to Talk Business & Politics.
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