State of the city: City finances showing improvement, mayor says
The city of Eureka Springs had quite
a bit of financial improvement in 2017,
Mayor Butch Berry reported at Monday
night’s council meeting.
“We kind of started 2017 with a new
budget freeze, which came out of our financial
restraints that we were facing,”
Berry said. “The city council and all the
departments and all the city services were
responding to this budget freeze with a lot
of resolve, rigor and due discipline. On
year later, we’ve discovered the financial
well-being of the city is much healthier.”
That’s evidenced by the available money
in the city’s general fund, Berry said.
“We’ve actually transferred money into
reserves,” Berry said. “This reverses a
long trend of … withdrawing savings.”
Also in 2017, Berry said, the council
adopted and codified a plan to pay off the
water and sewer bonds early. That results
in a savings of $250,000 in interest alone,
he said. He reminded the council of the
water and sewer rate increases in 2017,
along with the addition of the infrastructure
and improvement fee. This was necessary,
Berry said, for the city to get back
on its feet.
“We are required by state law to operate
these city services in a manner that the fees
charged cover the costs of providing the
services,” Berry said. “We’re required by
the bond covenants to operate Fund 80 at
a rate of 123 percent, so prior to the water
and sewer increase, we weren’t satisfying
either of these mandated requirements.”
He added, “We were actually violating
law and violating our bond requirements.
Since the rate increase, we’re finally in a
position of operating in compliance with
The city has been operating with a tight
budget, Berry said, for more than a year
now. It seems to be paying off, he said.
“We’re finally seeing the fruits of our
labor,” Berry said. “When I ran for mayor,
I wanted to focus on infrastructure.
We had some very big and very financial
constraints that had to be addressed
first. There’s no ignoring these financial
restraints. They require dealing with and
dealing with now.”
He thanked the city’s department heads
and council members for all they did to
comply with the spending freeze.
“The departments have stood solidly as
one during the budget freeze … to hold
the line on all spending,” Berry said. “The
expenditures for 2017 were at least 10 percent
under projections for the year.”
He described how the departments fared
individually in 2017, saying the police department
had more than 1,600 calls for
services, 757 offense and incident reports,
835 uniform citations, 277 arrests and 58
noise violations. The fire department responded
to 117 fire and rescue events, Berry
said, as well as 1,468 EMS incidents.
“The fire department and EMS also
prepared an RFP and was awarded to
provide services for the western district,”
Berry said, saying the contract comes in at
$250,000 per year.
Berry said the City Advertising and
Promotion Commission brought in the
largest collection in CAPC history in
2017, approximately 35 percent up from
2010. In 2018, he said, the CAPC plans
to bring television broadcasts to Dallas,
Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Little Rock, Kansas
City, Northwest Arkansas, Joplin and
“This will bring awareness to Eureka
Springs to 100,000 viewers, many for the
first time,” he said.
The city made strides in 2017 to move
toward ADA compliance, Berry continued,
moving all city meetings to The Auditorium
where the facilities are accessible to all.
“We want to thank all the citizens who
made ADA compliance a focus area,” Berry
Eureka Springs is doing well, Berry said,
and that should be true moving forward.
“I’m excited for the future of Eureka
Springs and the continued work on our
infrastructure,” Berry said. “With the help
and support of our citizens, we will continue
to make Eureka Springs a good place