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Fort Smith Moves A Step Closer To Joining Main Street Arkansas Program

Fort Smith Moves A Step Closer To Joining Main Street Arkansas Program

FORT SMITH, Ark. (KFSM) — The Fort Smith Board of Directors on Tuesday (July 16) approved a resolution endorsing the city’s inclusion in the Main Street Arkansas Program. It’s one of the last parts of the process required, according to 64.6 Downtown Executive Director Talicia Richardson, who is leading the effort to get downtown Fort Smith in the program.

Under the Department of Arkansas Heritage, Main Street Arkansas provides support for the businesses and organizations within the Main Street communities such as advising on façade renovations or interior remodels, grants, and small business consulting.

Fort Smith is in the program’s Arkansas Downtown Network, and Richardson has worked for two years to make the most of the membership and to step up to be a Main Street member.

“Fort Smith was one of the initial cities who signed up to be an ADN. Upon finding this information, 64.6 Downtown engaged the City in discussion to reactivate membership while informing the 64.6 Downtown Board and Central Business Improvement District of the role of Main Street Arkansas,” Richardson noted in a letter to the city. “In addition, meetings were held with the Downtown Business Association and business owners to present the benefits of being a Main Street Affiliate. With these efforts, business owners have participated in visits from Small Business Services, Interior and Exterior Design. The Main Street Arkansas staff has conducted presentations to business owners on general Main Street services and Make Your Store a Money Magnet: Attract Festival and Tourism Dollars to your Business.”

To read more of this story visit our content partners at Talk Business & Politics.

University Of Arkansas Trustees OK Raises For Top Officials

FAYETTEVILLE (AP) — The University of Arkansas Board of Trustees has approved a 3.1% salary increase for the chancellor at the system’s flagship campus in Fayetteville.

The raise for Joe Steinmetz, approved Tuesday, brings his annual total compensation to $714,000. According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette , that amount includes an annual salary of $464,000 and annual deferred compensation of $250,000 for Steinmetz.

The board of trustees also approved pay increases for other employees Tuesday during a teleconference meeting, including 10% increases for the deans of UA’s Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design and the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences.

Also Tuesday, the board approved a 2.1% pay increase for UA Chancellor Emeritus G. David Gearhart, bringing his annual salary to just under $290,000.

FORT SMITH, Ark. (TB&P) — The Fort Smith Board of Directors decided to keep most of the city-wide budget goals set in 2019 as priorities for the 2020 budget at a special budget study session Friday (June 21).

The list of goals includes 12 items and lists four spending priorities for the budget as the No. 1 point. Those spending priorities include police department critical equipment, pay increase for employees, additional LOPFI (police and fire pension) contributions to reduce the outstanding pension liabilities and a General Fund Capital Improvement Program. These are the same four spending priorities set in the 2019 budget.Police, Fire Dispatch System Part Of Fort Smith Budget Priorities; New City Hall Discussed

Police, Fire Dispatch System Part Of Fort Smith Budget Priorities; New City Hall Discussed

Interim Chief Danny Baker said he did not think the department would need to keep having that item on the budget priority list because of a seven-year plan approved with the 2019 budget that has the department’s fleet receiving a number of new vehicles each year.

To read more on the budget for Fort Smith and its new City Hall, you can visit our partners at Talk Business & Politics.

Arkansas Board Confirms First Secretary Of Corrections

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Arkansas Board of Corrections has unanimously confirmed the state’s first secretary of corrections.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that the seven-member board chose Wendy Kelley on Wednesday.

Kelley has led the Department of Correction since 2015, overseeing a prison system that has been plagued with violence.

The Parole Board and the Department of Community Correction are now merged into the Department of Correction under Kelley’s control. Her annual salary is expected to increase from $155,000 to $158,000.

The Cabinet position is one of 15 created following a state government reorganization in April. The law cuts the number of agencies answering directly to Gov. Asa Hutchinson from 42.

The new secretaries will begin work July 1.

UA Approves Tuition Hike At Most Schools

LITTLE ROCK (AP) — The University of Arkansas’ board of trustees has voted to increase tuition or fees at virtually every campus in the school’s system.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that trustees approved raising tuition and fees Thursday at a rate lower than 3% at four of the five four-year universities.

The decision comes after three other Arkansas public universities boosted tuition and fees for the upcoming academic year. A year earlier, all Arkansas public colleges and universities had frozen tuition prices at Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s request.

The University of Arkansas in Little Rock’s tuition freeze is notable as the school faces a multimillion-dollar budget shortfall in the forthcoming year.

The university elected to keep tuition at its existing level, hoping it will boost enrollment and tuition revenue.