City & County

Directors give Brinkley 6.5% raise; 2022 to be ‘Year of completion’

By Joel Phelps
The Arkadelphian

Following a 40-minute private meeting, the Arkadelphia Board of Directors on Tuesday voted unanimously to give City Manager Gary Brinkley a 6.5 percent raise in addition to a citywide 3 percent cost-of-living adjustment.

The raise equates to $6,500 and will bring Brinkley’s annual salary to $107,500. At one point during the executive session, directors invited Treasurer Shacresha Wilson to join them, and later invited Brinkley.

Once the board reconvened in public and made the unanimous decision, Mayor Scott Byrd thanked Brinkley: “We appreciate everything you do for us,” Byrd said. “You have taken our city to a new level, and it’s not going unnoticed within the city and around the state, even around the country.”

Brinkley’s raise came after his 2022 budget presentation, which is expected to be passed in form of a resolution at the next city board meeting.

Called a “Year of Completion,” the city’s 2022 budget is a balanced one, Brinkley said, that includes $12.5 million in expenses to the projected $15.2 million in revenue.

Operations and maintenance costs in the upcoming year were “moderately” increased to reflect current market prices, and administration is “aggressively” addressing major drainage system rebuilds and funding street repairs. Staffing for each department was budgeted at full strength, even with a 3 percent cost of living adjustment (city employees will have a 0.25 percent increase in their portion of the retirement contribution).

Of the airport’s $1.1 million, $727,500 was set aside for capital improvements, and $442,000 for maintenance and operations. The capital improvements include a new terminal building and design for a taxiway and parking ramp. Most of the funding for those projects will come in the way of grants.

Most of the street department’s $1.3 million will fund maintenance and operations ($1.2 million), with $47,900 for debt service and $82,500 for capital.

Half of the water department’s $6.1 million will fund maintenance and operations ($2.49 million), with almost half ($2 million) for capital; $428,000 was set aside for debt service.

Capital projects expected to be completed in 2022 are numerous.

The aquatic park’s $86,500 in capital improvements will include refurbishing towers, replacing exterior lights and refurbishing the restrooms.

The city is expected to spend $29,600 of its coffers for  community and special events, with $10,000 for safety barriers, another $10,000 for a projector and an enclosed trailer, $7,500 for special events lighting and $2,100 for street banners.

Drainage projects include rebuilds on Henderson, Haddock and Caddo and 27th streets, and repairs on Clark Street/Henderson House. The total set aside for these projects is $1.25 million.

The fire department will have $75,000 to raze the old chamber of commerce building and install a drive pad, as well as $186,000 for a new tower and repeater for communications.

The grounds crew will be able to purchase a new pickup truck with $45,000 set aside.

Parks and Recreation has an allowance of $443,000. Upcoming projects for that department include building a restroom at the Feaster Park softball field, two sand volleyball courts, new scoreboards for five fields and renovation to the exercise area at the Recreation Center, among other projects. Turfing a field at Feaster and installing a kayak launch for the Ouachita River were put on hold for a future year.

With $365,000 to spend next year, the police department will receive $154,000 to purchase the last four vehicles to complete its new fleet, $25,000 to update technology in its fleet and $186,000 to build new towers and a repeater for communications.

The sanitation department will be able to purchase a new vehicle with its $45,000 allowance. A new haul truck, at $140,000, will have to wait.

The street department will be able to spend $37,500 on fuel farm, buy a new pickup with $45,000, pour 2.43 miles of hot mix asphalt on city streets (229,000) and apply $276,000 worth of slurry seal on upcoming projects, which were highlighted in a street map in the presentation.

The water department’s capital improvements include $1.3 million allocated for completion of Gum Springs facility, half a million for line replacement, $60,000 for a master plan study update, $17,900 for engineering of the water tank repainting, and a $40,000 control panel at the industrial park’s lift station.