The first quarter of my term has been a busy one! I want to give the public a brief update about what we've accomplished and what we're working on here in the City of Gravette.
First of all, I want to offer a heartfelt thank you to those around town for not only welcoming me to my new role, but especially for being willing to bring me up to speed on those things I need to learn. In particular, the support and representation by the City Council and city staff have been exemplary.
Although we're winding up for spring, it's good to take a look at our progress. And as with any good organization, progress is a process that never ends!
It is my pleasure to report that the first quarter of 2015 saw what was likely the strongest 3 months in sales tax revenue the city has ever seen (see attached) with expenditures well within the council's budget appropriation. As such, it gives us an opportunity to responsibly establish reserves and plan for not just the rest of 2015, but beyond. A big thank you to our local businesses AND local shoppers for helping contribute to our success.
Library move – we have purchased the old Duffield's building to combine with old City Hall on Main Street. This will increase the library's square footage and enhance its ability to serve the community.
Expand Old Town Park – With the help of Shepherds Chapel we have been able to demolish a structure that has been vacant for many years. The result is a removal of blight and expansion of our greenspace.
I've put in place a new Fire Chief / Ambulance Director - Rob Douthit
We're working on multiple ambulance contracts and working to stabilize the revenue streams.
We've applied for several grants, one being the "Safer Grant" which will allow for better Ambulance coverage, and another with the Highway Department for Police related funds.
Established policy for snow plowing – This will allow for a scheduled posting of what streets are plowed and when.
Identified sidewalk projects and put out to bid - First sidewalk phase to be completed this year is on Hwy 59.
Wrapped up one phase of sewer system repair and are now exploring final improvements for retention ponds. This is all to be paid for by the 3/4 Cent Sales Tax approved by the voters.
Installed Badger water meters – we are now just under 300 meters left to have the entire city on the new updated badger system allowing for advanced leak detection and meter reading.
Parks beautification – getting your parks ready for summer (look out for new flower beds, tables repaired and painted, trash cans being painted), along with other projects in the works.
Disc golf pad repair – The new disc golf park at Old Town Park has been so popular we are adding pads at the beginning of each area for players to have a solid surface to start from.
Completed the conversion to digital document retention for the Police Department's long term records.
Installed dash cams – Our officers now have dash cams in patrol vehicles. These systems allow for face to face filming as well.
As a staff we've studied and improved on our approach to customer service and have reaffirmed our commitment to be a "service oriented city".
The first 3 months have been extremely busy, and we have accomplished a lot! I look forward to announcing some exciting new initiates in the second quarter. Stay tuned!
Mayor Kurt Maddox