A SYNOPSIS AT THE END IS FOR THOSE WHO DO NOT LIKE TO READ AND DEAL WITH THE FORT SMITH CITY GOVERNMENT’S DUBIOUS FINANCIAL ISSUES. January 25, 2015
THE RACE TO MAY—THEY ARE OFF & RUNNING! MANY QUESTIONS, NO REAL ANSWERS
They are off & running—the real owners of the Fort Smith City Government, City Manager Ray Gosack, F.S. Chamber of Commerce, F.S. Times Record/Warren Stephens, and the echelon of political high fivers.
The race officially began Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015 with an editorial salvo from the Times Record titled “Taxpayers Must Pay Bills, More”. Translation: Taxpayers; Suck it up, Shut up, Pay up.
The full court press continued: Times Record Jan. 12, 2015, 2 front page stories. Drew Linder, 1st National Bank employee and cheerleader for the unelected Bikeways & Trails NGO, in a blaze of bravado is leading a 6 person delegation of insiders advocating for 87.59 miles of trails. Linder paints a beautiful (at least in his mind) picture of what he believes eventually, if completed, the trails will look like. Linder claims the Trails will only cost the taxpayers a mere $17 MILLION. This is the estimated start-up cost.
Never mind the $500 million, 12 year EPA demand pertaining to the overhaul of the Fort Smith city sewer & surface water systems that has already been paid for at least once & mathematically could be more than once in the previous 30 years by the earmarked 1% street/sewer taxes which were misapplied and diverted. Now City Manager Gosack, Mayor Sanders & the Board are asking the citizens to foolishly vote for another 10 year extension of the city’s fun & gun spendathons.
The real owners of the Fort Smith city government, their enablers, and the compliant F.S. City Directors have staked-out their position by asking taxpayers for another 10 year renewal of the city’s two 1 cent street/sewer taxes, which by the way, city government, past & present, have surely obfuscated, misrepresented, misappropriated & diverted the 30 year/$600 Million tax monies, which could possibly be $1.2 billion that has been generated from the aforementioned two 1% street & sewer sales taxes. The city’s website and past Directors state there is a 1% sales tax for streets and a 1% sales tax for sewers.
Why did some of the city administrations present & past not discharge their sworn obligation to citizens and remedy the sewer debacle in a timely manner?
THE 1% STREET/SEWER TAXES WERE VERY SPECIFIC FOR 30 YEARS. THEY DEMANDED THAT THE REVENUES GENERATED WOULD BE APPLIED EQUALLY TO STREETS & SEWERS—NEITHER HAPPENED. WHAT GUARANTEES ARE IN PLACE THAT GOSACK, SANDERS, THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS AND/OR OTHERS WILL ABSOLUTELY, UNEQUIVOCALLY SPEND ALL THE MONEY ON STREETS & SEWERS? AND WHAT ARE THEIR POLITICAL GUARANTEES WORTH?—NOTHING. ABSOLUTE PROOF THAT GOSACK AND HIS ENABLERS HAVE DIVERTED THE SEWER TAX FOR AT LEAST 25 YEARS IS THE EPA’S $500 MILLION RECENT DIRECTIVE TO THE CITY AND THE OUTRIGHT $300,000 FINE. THE CITY IS NOW FEVERISHLY CAMPAIGNING FOR WHAT THEY HAVE NOW RE-BRANDED AS A 1% STREET TAX WITH NO SPECIFICS.
MORE IMPORTANTLY NO MENTION OF AN OMISSION OF THE SEWER TAX. WHERE DID THE MONEY GO & THE AMOUNT FROM THE 2ND 1% TAX? THE TIMES RECORD IS NOW CALLING THE FORMER 1% STREET/SEWER TAX , THE 1% STREET TAX. THESE FACTS INDICATE THE F.S. CITY GOVERNMENT IS AN OLIO OF CONUNDRUMS, OBFUSCATIONS, DIVERSIONS AND MAYBE MUCH MORE.
If voters approve the 10 year extension it will generate a minimum of $250 million by one of the 1% taxes, but what about the second 1% tax, what happens to it?
The downtown insiders have closed ranks and their battle cry is “we must educate Fort Smith citizens”, i.e. program, indoctrinate & obfuscate. Government’s golden rule.
The main subject here is the upcoming May election to renew or reject what has been a 30 year 1% street/sewer tax that generated $600 million which specifically demanded every penny be used equally for renovation of sewers & street improvements, resulting in citizen taxpayers having little to show for a remake of streets & sewers. The tax tally could have reached $1.2 billion during the 3 decade long period.
The present and some of the past city governments for the last 30 years have diverted, misapplied, & misappropriated the $600 million to $1.2 billion and have no qualms about unctuously asking for another $250 million to $500 million replete with no guarantees (same as the previous 30 years) on what & how they would spend the upwards to $ ¼ BILLION to $ ½ billion. “Trust us”, again.
The question continues to be Where Did The $600 million to $1.2 billion Go? Certainly not on streets and sewers.
Back in the day, 25 years ago, city government, the Chamber of Commerce, & perhaps others ran a successful campaign to get the 1 Cent street/sewer sales taxes passed, all wrapped up in sweet promises.
Observe the present day condition of streets & sewers.
The campaign was a simple one, but effective. Citizens were besieged daily with the written and spoken phrase “It’s only a penny”. The proponents of the well financed 1 cent tax campaign featured their media ads with a 1 cent copper penny with Abe’s image sunny side up.
Citizens bought into it in 1985, bought into it again in 1995, and again in 2005 and now the question is will citizens be willing to get stiffed again for the 4th time, with the city’s battle cry “Great streets & no more flooding for only a penny”? That worthless little copper created somewhere between $600 million & $1.2 billion in 30 years and disappeared with no explanations from the “officials” the taxpayers elected to protect their purse and property. WHERE DID THE MONEY GO?
Fool me once, shame on you…fool me 4 times, shame on me.
What clever, surreptitious media blitz will the city & their enablers come with this go-around?
A FACTUAL REVELATION OF THE CONDUCT OF THE CITY GOVERNMENT OF FORT SMITH, AR REVEALS AT THE VERY LEAST ITS INCOMPENTENCY OR AT ITS WORST CRIMINALITY.
Tuesday night’s official Board Meeting Jan. 20th : In view of the Environmental Protection Agency’s leveling a $ ½ billion demand against the city of Fort Smith, coupled to an outright $300,000 FiNE, why would the Board’s major topic of discussion be centered on Agenda 21’s 87.59 miles of unfunded Trails? The startup costs given by unelected NGO Parks Commission Chair Lorie Robertson would be $17 million, this without available funding. She states the Parks NGO will demand 20%, not the 10% the TR reports as their part of the newly named “1% street tax”.
Major shortfalls continue to plague F.S. city government, e.g. deficits in Fire & Police pensions, accompanied by unfunded across the board 8% pay raises for city employees (4% increase in healthcare costs, 1% cost of living, up to 3% for step/merit increases, & the unfunded fluoridation of the people’s water supply). Yet Trails occupy center stage in official Board Meetings. All mum on the payment of the $ ½ billion EPA demand!
Facts support that one of the 1% street & sewer taxes have generated about $600 million dollars in its 30 year history. These taxpayer funds have been misapplied (who knows for what) and diverted.
In view of the diversion and misapplication of taxpayer funds, absent explanations and/or apologies to taxpayers, city government is now calling on voters to approve another 10 year 1% tax, replete with no specificities, as if they would be honored. And the other 1% tax?
The Times Record & the Fort Smith City Government have re-branded the name of the one of the two taxes to the 1% street tax, blatantly leaving out sewers. Why is that? According to the Fort Smith city government’s website there are two taxes, 1% for streets & a 1% for sewers, therefore why is the Times Record & city government now only talking about a 1% street tax in light of the $ ½ billion EPA mandate plus the $300,000 fine. This smacks of major deceptions aimed at the taxpaying citizen.
There’s no avenue for thinking citizens to comprehend & understand the circuitous maze of deception precipitated by city government. Again, there are TWO 1% taxes—a 1% tax for streets & a 1% for sewers. Why would the Times Record, always without questions, continue to alter the name of the official 1% street/sewer tax?
There is also the matter, and it smacks of bribery, having to do with the for-profit Delta Dental Insurance company’s subsidizing the start-up costs of $1 million to initiate the fluoridation of the F. S. water supply. Fluoridation has been turned down by voters on multiple occasions. Fort Smith sewers are not the only thing that smells.
It is noted that newly elected Director Don Hutchings was a past member of the F.S. Board of Dire
The F.S. City Government’s spendathon continues by subsidizing a plethora of entertainment venues, some government and some private, e.g. the Marshal’s Museum, the motorcycle rally, etc. all in full view of hundreds of millions in shortfalls.
The undeniable & indisputable foundation for this article and synopsis is based on facts that the present and past Fort Smith city governments have manipulated, misapplied and diverted somewhere between $600 million and $1.2 billion of taxpayers’ dollars as witnessed by the 25 year repeated demands made by the EPA on the city of Fort Smith for the correction of sewer/drainage problems. All the while the FS city government turned a 25 year blind eye to the EPA and the very real problems of raw sewage, flooding, etc. yet there were millions of taxpayer dollars readily available for revamping the sewer system/flooding problems. The EPA’s final demand was and is essentially a $ ½ billion demand fine & an additional $300,000 fine. The hubris that City Manager Gosack has shown, accompanied by various city Board members, shows arrogance and disrespect for F.S. taxpaying citizens.
P.S. Notable supporters of Agenda 21 Trail systems, i.e. Lorie Robertson, Drew Linder, Bryan Merry (all unelected NGO members), and Bill Hanna & Casey Millspaugh—All are of the opinion that the Trails are “game changers”, “job creators” & would “draw industry” to the area.
Those are touchy, feel-good opinions directed at voters, perhaps self-serving, and that is all. There is not one shred of credible evidence and no empirical data that would support any of the above.
Did Whirlpool, et al leave because there were not enough Trails? Is that why Mitsubishi never occupied their enormous facility?