Error message

  • Warning: preg_match() [function.preg-match]: Unknown modifier '2' in getOS() (line 1183 of /home/citywire/public_html/sites/all/themes/tcw/template.php).
  • Warning: preg_match() [function.preg-match]: Unknown modifier 'c' in getOS() (line 1183 of /home/citywire/public_html/sites/all/themes/tcw/template.php).

Scholarship offer for ‘Strong Towns’ workshop

The City Wire Editorial

The Applied Sustainability Center at the University of Arkansas is offering such an intriguing workshop that The City Wire and Potts & Company have partnered to provide scholarships to 10 elected officials and top paid employees from the city of Fort Smith and Sebastian County government. And we’re dang serious about the offer.

We’ll also offer transportation if necessary.

“Strong Towns” is a concept founded and promoted by Chuck Marohn. His work is focused on helping city’s improve their budgets, budgeting process, bolster local tax bases, reduce taxpayer burdens, promote economic diversity and help community leaders “plan for long-term viability.” The official title of the workshop is, “Strong Towns: The Intersection of Land Use, Transportation, and Financial Resilience.”

Michele Halsell, managing director of the UA Applied Sustainability Center, is excited about having Marohn in Fayetteville on April 3 for the “Strong Towns” workshop. She said several cities around the state are sending “teams” in an effort to better capture the info and take it back to their respective areas. The University of Central Arkansas’ Center for Community and Economic Development is also a sponsor.

As of Feb. 10, no persons from the Fort Smith area had signed up. Again, The City Wire and Potts & Company have partnered to provide scholarships to the first 10 elected officials and top paid employees from the city of Fort Smith and Sebastian County government who contact us. (And we will pay for anyone already registered who qualifies for our scholarship and transportation offer.)

In the statement announcing the workshop, Halsell noted: “This workshop is geared toward city planners, mayors, city financial directors, city council representatives, public works directors and economic development professionals. It is an opportunity to learn from one of the best in the field about ways to grow and strengthen your community in a way that is sustaining.”

One of those attending is Travis Stephens, CEO of the Clarksville-Johnson County Chamber of Commerce and a former Fort Smith City Director candidate.

“I try to go to anything like this, to see what the new trends are, to see the new practices and the new strategies. It’s continuous learning more than anything else, and to find out what other communities are doing successfully,” Stephens explained.

Marohn’s push for a strong town follows five basic tenets.
1. The town or local government must be near-term financially solvent.

2. The town or local government must have the tax base and resources to cover long-term financial commitments. Under this point, Marohn’s questions include: Have the public investments that have been made in your town's infrastructure resulted in private-sector investments that can financially sustain the maintenance of that infrastructure? Is your town reliant on government transfer payments or extreme amounts of debt to pay for maintenance of basic infrastructure systems? Does your town have a capital improvements plan that accounts for the maintenance and replacement of all infrastructure systems?

Good questions.

3. The town or local government must have sufficient age diversity so that population will be added at a rate greater than population is being lost.

4. The town or local government must have sufficient economic diversity and vibrancy so that businesses are added at a rate greater than or equal to the rate they are lost.

5. The town or local government must have the courage and leadership to plan for long-term viability. Marohn’s questions under this point include: Does your town have a long-term plan for success? Do the leaders in your community understand that plan and embrace it? Are short-term decisions made through the prism of the long-term viability of the community? Are the members of the town engaged in a broad and comprehensive way in the planning of the community?

The UA press released also offered this as an explainer as to what Marohn promotes: “Marohn and Strong Towns staff members promote an understanding of the costs associated with community growth. In their view, the current approach to growth emphasizes investments in new infrastructure, has caused economic stagnation and decline and left America’s towns dependent on public subsidies. The Strong Town approach focuses on obtaining a higher return on existing infrastructure, tax base and resources to cover long-term financial commitments.”

Advertisement:

Admission to this three-hour workshop in Fayetteville on April 3 is $25. Again, The City Wire and Potts & Company have partnered to provide scholarships to the first 10 elected officials and top paid employees from the city of Fort Smith and Sebastian County government who want to take advantage of the offer. We’ll also offer transportation if necessary.

We’ll be happy to help the first 10 who contact us from either the city of Fort Smith and Sebastian County government. To contact us, e-mail admin@thecitywire.com, and put STRONG TOWNS in the subject line. (The process will be that the first 10 qualifying city or county employees then handle their own registration, and we will reimburse those who show proof of registration and proof of attendance.)

We look forward to the workshop and supporting the attendance of local government officials.

Five Star Votes: 
Average: 3.9 (14 votes)

Like This Article? Share It!

Comments

Strong towns

I'll be anxious to hear which of our officials take advantage of this opportunity and which ones are "too busy".

Omnipotent

Good Quality Leaders never pass up an opportunity to learn so we will see who thinks they are Omnipotent and don't need any help.

Trading Places

So do Potts and TCW have a $1 dollar bet whether any City or County officials will sign-up? The offer borders on facetious given the circus we call local government. If TCW and Potts is serious, they would offer the scholarship to non-elected, non-political, civic-minded citizens. I for won would sign-up and attend thereinafter volunteering my services free of charge to manage municipal issues. All I would require would be the right to terminate management positions. I am serious. I'd do line item budgets free of charge. I would repurpose faltering municipal assets. I would recruit teams of volunteers to trim and manage municipal expenses and policy. In short it won't be business as usual. Once this city's course correction is navigated, I would jump ship and leave town before the mutinous sabotage from the old river city pirates and cronies on board had a chance to keel-haul me for shark bait. I'll see you $1 and raise you $2, this is a gambling riverboat, dontchya know?

Meeting

So, for free you'll appropriate the job of the elected political leaders and "take over" the budget? That's mighty fine of you. Hey, your leadership might be of low quality (will you gore your oxen? of course your reply will be "I don't take no gubmint money dagnabit!) but they were elected. Why don't you simply pay your own freight and attend the meeting on your own. Heck, why don't you throw your own hat into the ring and get involved in the governing of your town? Don't stand on the sidelines and throw rocks.

Getting burned

The point, Alexander, is that anyone outside of the "click" is going to get burnt as long as the majority of eligible voters who stand on the sidelines and complain fail to get off their butts and raise hell at board meeting and vote the bums out and taxes down at every opportunity. It isn't very pretty what a town without pity can do (like the song says). Fort Smith is a lost cause. All complaints are rhetorical at best as the good old boys will shut you down if you don't support them. Just ask 'vice-man' Settle how it works. His vice has to do with shutting down women at board meetings....like a goon and a bully. No wonder he does martial arts, he's afraid some gal will whoop him in public....

Sounds like it would be just the way you wanted

after you were finished unleashing your 'help'. There were 7 forms of 'I', 1 'my', and the only time 'you' was even mentioned at all was when you were talking about gambling. Call. Sanders certainly should forced to attend after mentioning yet another lake project even as the need for it dwindles away.

Pronoun tally : It counts for nothing in the big picture.

So what's your point, Breaky ? My point is that we taxpayers are paying for too much waste in a city with municipal government larger than it needs to be. The taxpayers are beyond grabbing their ankles; their heads are where the sun don't shine if they think improving the current regime is realistic. Vote the bums out !

'No thank you' is my point

The last thing we need is one of our resident self acclaimed geniuses figuring out on their own what's best for the other 70,000 of us even if we don't want it. It's getting old.

Blog from Strong Town Website

I read the blog, "From the Mayor's Office, located on the Strong Town website and made some quick points and noted for those who may be interested. First, the identified mayor, like those all across Arkansas was a strong type mayor, elected and accountable to the people. Fort Smith has a ceremonial mayor, the city administrator, who is not accountable to the people, actually runs Fort Smith. Secondly, he stated on page 7 of his letter, the need for, "the free market needs to be set loose to fill infill lots". A big difference from structuring some special interest, non-profit group, who typically prospers at the taxpayers expense. The third point will probably be the reason why there will be no Fort Smith department heads accept the scholarship to attend workshop, "Code Enforcement". The mayor in the blog stated he was proposing an ordinance to REPEAL the city's entire zoning code and after 6 months he wanted the zoning code to cease to exist in governing his city. And finally, he wanted approval for construction under the new code to be done within two hours, stating people need to know clearly what they can do and they need to be able to walk into city hall and then walk out with a permit. Does this even sound possible in Fort Smith?
I read the blog, "From the Mayor's Office, located on the Strong Town website and made some quick points and noted for those who may be interested. First, the identified mayor, like those all across Arkansas was a strong type mayor, elected and accountable to the people. Fort Smith has a ceremonial mayor, the city administrator, who is not accountable to the people, actually runs Fort Smith. Secondly, he stated on page 7 of his letter, the need for, "the free market needs to be set loose to fill infill lots". A big difference from structuring some special interest, non-profit group, who typically prospers at the taxpayers expense. The third point will probably ...>> Read the entire comment.

Already Have That

Jack-Many places have already done away with building codes and all other city codes and let the citizens do what they want. Places like Moffet, OK. You are free to go live in the flourishing metropolis of Moffet which governs following your preferred method. Works out pretty good for them, doesn't it (sarcasm intended).

We have a few unreasonable and extreme people

as defacto code enforcement here. Were the city actually running the show one wouldn't be able to look in any direction from their own property and see just as bad or worse. Or drive through 3 - 4 sections of town and see worse in each and every one of them. Fact is no city in the US is 100% compliant with codes but what makes it so abhorrent here is these few citizens who have literally memorized most of the rules, can call in an unlimited amount of times, and they use these codes to effect the change they are after moreso than compliance. They want someone out of their property, they don't like the business that's near them....viola a list of violations shows up and don't miss the sentence above them that says this does not mean that's everything that's wrong.

A little goes a long way

Let's start with the simple stuff. House trim painting, yard clutter clean-up, pet control, fire safety. It doesn't take costly compliance to address such issues to maximize the clean and caring ambience of our town. Where's the pride? Where's the willingness to impress visitors? This isn't rocket science. How difficult is it to throw away an unsightly old tire on the lawn, or put away stacks of junk on the front porch? Why not display some respect for you neighbors who are stuck looking at your rubble day in and day out? It might be selective enforcement by the authorities on a complaints basis, but if more people "selected" to clean up their neighborhood with a support from the authorities, then we'll wind up with a better place to live. Contrary to a book with a similar title,if you don't "sweat" the small stuff, then it will grow into big unmanageable stuff. Spring is almost here,time to get off the couch and clean-up this town.

Or a limb might be left on the ground all morning.

by those 2 70 year old ladies. One can't help but notice as the decades grind slowly by that as things are gradually fixed the complaints only continue to grow. You watch the chronic complainer continue to drive out of his way several times a day so he can look at your property and if anything he is disappointed at the improvements. It's never going to stop with this guy is it other than somewhere within a figment of his own imagination? A lot of people in town have those 'strange' unhappy neighbors but some of us deal with about 50x that. At some point you do something about these people also because they can easily make the neighborhood a bad place to live also. You simply don't let some people have an unlimited power to complain..but how do you stop them if you don't even ask who they are?