Fort Smith Administrator Ray Gosack hopes to strengthen communication between city residents and the municipal government.
On Wednesday (June 20), the city unveiled the Progress as Promised website to update voters on the sales tax initiatives approved in March 2012.
On March 13, voters were asked to extend the use of a 1% sales tax to refinance bonds, pay for the issuance of new bonds and support operations of the Fort Smith Fire Department and Fort Smith Parks & Recreation Department.
The extension is estimated to finance more than $112.56 million in new bonds and potentially direct $45 million in 10 years toward the operations of the city’s Fire Department and Parks Department.
Gosack said updates for the 0.75% portion of the sales tax extension are already in progress, adding that the 0.25% portion of the 1% extension will likely “not see any updates until December,” since revenue to fund those projects will not come in until the end of the year.
“Our principle reason for creating the website was to report to people the progress we’re making. Voters overwhelmingly supported all these projects, and we want to make sure we’re clearly communicating progress on accomplishing those initiatives. We just want to give people an opportunity to get updated when it’s convenient for them,” Gosack said.
Gosack said the website would receive updates “about once per month,” though he noted “part will depend on actions being taken by the board as we’re approving contracts or finishing projects.”
When asked about the challenges of reminding a city of 86,000 that this information is out there, Gosack said the page would be available under the Government sidebar of the fortsmithar.gov home page, and that board actions “should generate some ongoing publicity.”
Along with a quick overview of the 50 individual projects, Gosack said the page would also contain “deeper links,” when available, so that “if people want to know more information on why the fire department was approved for six pieces of apparatus (at the Tuesday night-June 19 board meeting), they can get to that kind of detail.”
The Fort Smith Board of Directors recently approved an engineering architectural agreement for the aquatics center (estimated opening date of Memorial Day weekend 2014, according to the Progress as Promised page).