The Fort Smith Board of Directors may take a step Tuesday in the direction of renegotiating a federal order mandating sewer work.
The city entered into a federal consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice in late 2014 and must make an estimated $480 million worth of upgrades to its sewers within 12 years. Sewer rates have increased three times to help pay for the work, and City Administrator Carl Geffken has been vocal about his intent to try to renegotiate the consent decree because the city cannot afford to complete the work within the time frame without increasing rates again.
The board will vote Tuesday on a $300,000 contract with Burns and McDonnell for technical expertise in support of the city's effort to revise the consent decree, including developing strategies and justifications for changes in compliance and schedule requirements, according to a memo from Utilities Director Jerry Walters to Geffken.
"On an as-needed basis, this agreement also provides for additional engineering services that may be required to modify current department practices to meet the revised consent decree," according to the memo. "This agreement also includes any work needed to evaluate and develop water and wastewater cost-of-service, short and long range financial planning, rate analysis, Tru-Ups, etc."
If approved, the contract is not to exceed three years.
The board will also consider five new positions for the Sanitation Department, including an accounting technician, a container technician and three equipment operators. Combined, the salaries and benefits would cost $214,097.
The board will also consider:
• An ordinance rezoning property at 400 N. Waldron Road, 5403 and 5505 Park Ave. and amending the zoning map from residential single-family duplex medium density to a planned zoning district by classification.
• An ordinance amending the Master Land Use Plan map and rezoning property at 5601 and 5717 Park Ave., amending the zoning map and approving development plan.
• An ordinance rezoning property at 9101 R.A. Young Drive.
• An ordinance rezoning property at 6700 Veterans Ave. a from not zoned to residential multifamily medium density.
• An ordinance rezoning identified property at 314 and 316 Lexington Ave. from transitional to commercial neighborhood.
• An ordinance amending the Master Land Use Plan map and rezoning property at 12000 U.S. 71 from not zoned to commercial moderate.
• A resolution granting a temporary revocable license for the placement of a monument sign in a public utility easement and authorizing the mayor to execute the agreement (Applicant: FIRSTAR Bank, 6200 Massard Road).
• An ordinance authorizing the appropriation of money from the reserve balance of the general fund (Creekmore Park diesel spill remediation).
• An ordinance authorizing the appropriation of donated money for Parks Department purchases (various parks amenities).
• An ordinance authorizing the appropriation of donated money for Parks Department purchases (Riverfront Drive Skate and Bike Park).
• A resolution accepting the project as complete and authorizing final payment of $70,000 to Hudson Excavation Inc. for demolition services
The Fort Smith Board of Directors meeting will be 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Fort Smith Public Schools Service Center, Building B, 3205 Jenny Lind Road. There will be a town hall meeting immediately following adjournment of the regular meeting where residents may speak for up to five minutes each.