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Full text of Bryant Mayor Jill Dabbs' State of the City address

February 24, 2012

State of the City

February 2012

Welcome to the 2012 Bryant, Arkansas State of the City Address
and thanks to the citizens of Bryant for the privilege of serving you this past year. Thank you
- To my family who continues to give me daily support, understanding and
encouragement as I carry out the duties of the Mayor’s office
- To the department directors and their wonderful staff who are devoted
professionals, dedicated to the betterment of Bryant and......
- To the Members of City Council
Serving as your Mayor this year has been an honor and a rewarding journey
with many successes and some challenges as well. They are to be expected
because with wide-sweeping improvements, change is inevitable. Change
itself is, at times, challenging, but my commitment “to serve you to the best
of my ability” sometimes requires such change. With that being said, let
yourself be encouraged because we have accomplished some outstanding
milestones and there are many exciting plans on Bryant’s horizon.

The state of the city is strong as we continue to see growth. My commitment
is to see this growth continue in a planned, controlled method that results
in a Bryant that holds onto the values and assets that built us and a
Bryant that offers more than it could when we were smaller. We are
financially sound; during 2011, the completion of the census increased our
state turn back. Along with that and other efficiency measures, we were
able to increase our cash on reserve, our capital improvement funds, and
improve city services all without increasing taxes.

The Vision for Our City

To promote a connected and unified city, one that is managed and organized
in a way that promotes involvement, ownership and sense of community among
all citizens. There are proven plans in place to begin achieving these
goals and as the new year begins, I am excited that you will have the
opportunity to become involved in this process in a more profound way than
has previously been available. Improved communication is the first step
in connecting each of us better as a city. In our fast-paced world,
improved communication requires improved technology. Bryant is growing
bigger, and as we grow, we must act our size and act responsibly and be
accountable to those we serve in order to meet the needs of this growing
city without being a burden to the citizens we serve.

My Focus and Commitment to You

To move Bryant forward with intelligent planning and sound principles.For
example, we have implemented storm water ordinances just recently that
should insure we do not continue to create storm water issues such as
flooding by poorly designed developments. We will continue to grow; we
want to grow, but we must grow in a responsible manner that does not create
infrastructure issues that will be laid on the backs of the tax payers.

I will continue to put my whole mind and heart to work on the issues that
are important to this city and the issues that are important to you. We
must be solution-oriented, thinking outside the box, “how can we work
smarter, spend less, and get more done.”

I will continue to provide and support a dynamic staff that is instrumental
in helping us achieve the city’s goals. I cannot tell you how proud I am
of our city employees and how hard they work to serve you. They are
excited about the vision laid forth in my administration and they are the
ones to receive credit for making that vision a reality.

I will continue to make myself and my staff available to you through town
hall meetings, social media outlets, lunches with the citizens, and
continue improving our technology and website development so we can better
meet your needs.

I want to encourage and provide more avenues for our citizens to get
involved in the process of improving the community through volunteer
programs, workshops, organizations and special events.

I am committed to keeping my focus and energy working on what is good and
worthy of attention: accomplishments, goals, and building healthy, working
relationships with elected officials and community leaders.

We will continue to streamline processes, eliminate waste and reduce
operating costs as much as possible, proving that local government can do
more with less.

With the cost-saving measures and cuts the city made last year we were able
to fund the Storm Water Management Program and the Police Fleet Management
Program. Coming into office in 2011, these were the two major budget
obstacles we were facing for the coming year and were not sure how we were
going to fund them within the existing budget. I commend the city staff
for remaining committed to doing more with less, and over the course of
twelve months we realized enough savings to fund both very important
programs.

I see, today in Bryant, a great opportunity for our future!

Connecting better as a community by taking great strides towards being a
more engaged and accessible local government to the citizens, businesses,
organizations, and schools that we serve.

Continuing to build a “Bryant” that is beautiful, accessible and
inviting that sustains and improves the quality of life and supports
economic development.

There is much to be done and many opportunities to pursue together. Looking
at what we have accomplished and the plans for the immediate future, I am
excited about the possibilities.

With a Great Team comes Great Accomplishments

I believe strongly that every once in a while it is important to shift our
focus away from all that needs to be done and celebrate what we have done
in order to stay motivated, focused and encouraged. Now comes the time to
recognize the outstanding accomplishments of our departments under the
direction of our dedicated directors. There were many projects completed in
2011 and many new ones got underway.

Public Works Achievements & Infrastructure Projects Completed

The Department saved thousands of wasted dollars by a complete efficiency restructuring
Completed the Waste Water Treatment Plant Aeration System
Completed Griffis Drive Pipe-bursting project
Highway 5 Utilities Relocation/Bridge Project
Debswood Drive Overlay
Neal Street Speed Control
Improved Bishop Park’s Back Entrance
Dogwood Drive overlay
Maintained an Aggressive Mowing Schedule during the growing months
Forest Cove Street and Bridge Project Complete
Augusta Cove Project Completed
Sewer System Evaluation Survey Completed

Public Works Projects Currently in Progress

2MG Water Tank
Water Tank Rehabilitation
Booster Pump Station
Transmission Main Improvements
Hwy 5 Widening at Forest Cove

Public Works Upcoming Projects

Waste-water Telemetry System
Hilldale Road Bridge
Three Crossing Project in Sunset Meadows
Construciton of Raymar Road North to Hwy 5
Springhill Road to Woodland Road
Woodland Road to Prickett Road
Planning the Widening of Boone Road
North Tank Rehab Project
South Tank Rehab Project
Relocating lines along Highway 5

Public Works – Wastewater Achievements

Estimated 25,000-30,000 feet of new gravity sewer line
Estimated 8,000-10,000 feet of new force main,
Several hundred new manholes
Rehabbed 1674 feet of gravity sewer line.
Ready to accept 3 new duplex dump stations
249 Work Orders completed
Outside flood lights at nine pump stations to comply with new ADEQ regulations.
1,120 Work Orders completed for the year 2011.
The Waste-water Treatment Department has been extremely busy processing all
of the stored waste-water from the period the plant was under maintenance.
I am happy to report that we have been able to process an additional 22%
above maximum capacity with the recent plant improvements. This improvement
will help reduce the effect major storm events have on our collection
system.

Public Works – Street

Repaired unsafe sections of concrete at Colonial Drive, Providence Drive, Byron Drive, and Sedgefiled Drive
Replaced culverts at Hurricane Lake Road to improve drainage
Completed staff training sessions on road repair techniques
Completed 438 work orders dealing with repair, cleaning & mowing

2012 Street Dept Goals

Continue to repair as many streets with the limited amount of funds
available.
Identify Breaks in Street and Sidewalk Connectivity in order to better
plan for infrastructure improvements that will increase our quality of life
by improving our transportation choices and making biking and walking safer
than it is currently.
Develop 5 and 10 year Master Connectivity Plans for all areas of our city that will enhance our quality of life, improve and maintain economic sustainability and improve property values. This plan will require input from neighborhood and community leaders in order to identify the areas of needed improvement beyond a side walk or a pothole patch. I am hopeful we could see some public-private partnerships emerge that will fast-track some of these improvements. Quick victories will encourage us to strive harder towards the more challenging victories of neighborhood development and improvement.
Partner with Keeping Bryant Beautiful in order to have a litter free streets with the help of volunteers through the newly launched Adopt-a-Street Program.

I want to commend our Public Works Director, Monty Ledbetter, for doing an
outstanding job in leading his department. Monty has incredible managerial
skills and excels in motivating his team and empowering the managers who
directly report to him to do an excellent job. This attribute can be seen
in the efficiency and productivity across all of Public Works... Streets,
Water, Waste Water, and Storm Water Management.

Planning Department Achievements

Control and approval of the final plat and plan approvals of
subdivisions Courtyard Cottages, Springhill Village Phase IV, Remington
Place Phase III
Control and approval of final plat and plans for Edward’s Food Giant,
Saline Orthopedics, Horton Orthotics Lab, Datsaburger, Whole Hog Cafe,
Orange Leaf Yogurt, Dollar General Stores, and a new Elementary School.
Maintenance of storm-water drainage system involving inspection,
training, cleaning and maintenance management to ensure compliance and aid
in flood prevention.
Created drainage district map in GIS as part of Operation Cleanout
Worked with Code Enforcement to establish Storm Water Ordinance
Worked with GIS to create a more precise flood map
Worked with Code Enforcement to generate MS4 stormwater report

2012 Planning Department Goals

To review and improve all controls, processes and requirements in the
construction planning process to ensure the community gets a finished product that functions properly and endures.
Maintain strong working relationships with Developers
Attract great businesses to our city that enhance our community and
enhance our quality of life.

Dave Green, Planning Director, following LaVenia Jones' retirement took over
the helm of the Planning Department. He brings 30 plus years of extensive
planning experience to Bryant, and he has already shown, in his short time
with us, his passion for building on our already great Planning Department.
Bryant is where we are today, in large part to a very forward thinking
Planning Department that seized great opportunities in the past when our
real growth started. By no means were we perfect in this area, but let’s
not allow the enemy of perfection to overshadow what is good. We did a lot
of things right, and one I would like to highlight, is our tree preservation
efforts which were inspired by longtime Bryant residents and reflected in
landscaping ordinances which were passed in the last couple of decades.
When you look around Bryant this spring realize all the grand, old trees in
our community, and the trees that line our streets, and the green ways
between businesses and city streets is a result of positive, planned growth.
Now let’s continue to build on those principles as we continue to grow.

Animal Control & Adoption Center Achievements

Received over $8,000 in monetary donations
Bryant Middle School donated 150 treats, toys, beds and bags of food
Pasta Jack’s sponsored a donation drive to benefit the shelter. This
resulted in donations of food, cat litter, toys and other supplies
This department leads our social media campaign, reaching over 550 fans
on Facebook
Began SNIP (Spay/Neuter Initiative Program)
Held first ever golf tournament to benefit the shelter
“Doggie Dunk” event at Mills Park was a huge success
“Dog Gone Crazy” Adoption Program
Implemented the Canine Influenza Vaccine Grant at no cost to the citizens
A new city of Bryant Animal Shelter billboard has been ordered.
Pet Adoption rates rose to 78% for the year, which is still well above
the national average of 45%.
Citizen and adopter service was improved greatly over the past year. We continue to see this as a work in progress, as we can always improve
Follow-up procedures were streamlined and approved. New software program was introduced which will allow an even greater immediate and sustained improvement to follow-ups and call responses
Officers are communicating more effectively regarding problem areas and
are working diligently to keep the lines of communication open. Software will continue to aid in this regard

Animal Control & Adoption Center Goals for 2012

Continue to improve procedures and programs, reduce cost and serve the community
Update and streamline city ordinances regarding animals within the city limits
Complete the Animal Disaster Response Plan and aid Saline County with theirs
Continue to support and assist the other City departments in all ways possible
Create a new program each quarter that connects our department more with community

Code Enforcement Achievements

Proper enforcement and handling of Health & Safety and building issues.
Addressed and handled multiple trash, junk and debris accumulations within our authority, and continue to work on those that are less compliant.
Responded to and rectified many unsightly and unsanitary issues
Total number of Business Privileged Licenses for 2011 was 708
Relocated from City Hall to the Public Safety Building in order to be
more accessible to the citizens and developers they serve.

Gregg Huggs, does a phenomenal job leading the Code Enforcement Department.
His position requires a lot of cooperation with other departments and he
works in such a way that he is not only an asset within his own department
he is to others as well. I commend Gregg and his staff for their
excellent service to our city. It is not a job many could do better. He
is often the bearer of bad news and does it with such class most say
thank-you when he leaves. Gregg was instrumental in drafting the storm
water ordinance and led the way in making this possible in 2011.

Fire Department Achievements

The Bryant Fire Department received a grant from Firehouse Subs for
approximately $18,000.00 for the purchase of three thermal imaging cameras.
The thermal imaging cameras were placed on the apparatuses, so that the
firefighting crews can work more efficiently while performing firefighting
duties.
FM Global awarded a grant in the amount of $2,400.00 to the Bryant Fire
Department for the purchase of equipment that will aid in fire investigation operations.
Took applications and held employment testing to create a hiring list for the department resulting in the creation of a hiring list of seven prospective employees for future needs
Purchased a heavy duty Rescue Cutter

Firefighter Community Participation & Assistance

Presented Fire Prevention Programs to the three elementary schools within the Bryant Fire Department district. The Fire Department successfully presented the Fire Prevention Program to over 1500 elementary students within the Bryant School District. The department held its Annual Fire Prevention Festival at the Central Fire Station, ending Fire Prevention Week with success.
Assisted the Saline County Junior Auxiliary with the Breakfast with
Santa by hosting the event at the Central Fire Station. The event was held
in early December and was a big success. Over 700 pancakes were served to
the Saline County children and their parents. It was estimated that over
400 children were present for this event.
Assisted the Bryant Boys and Girls Club staff with setting up for the
first ever Starlight Gala. The event was held as a fund raiser for the
Bryant Boys and Girls Club.
Participated in the 9/11 Ceremony at the State Capitol at the request of
the Governor’s Office
Assisted at Bryant’s Fall Fest by providing a Water Rescue Team and providing information booth
These are just of a few of the many community outreach services provided
by the Bryant Fire Department.

Fire Department Inspections

The Fireman work diligently throughout the year to insure our communities safety by performing numerous Fire Inspections throughout the entire community.
Hydrant Testing was performed throughout the district.
The Fireman also assisted in checking in on Bryant’s elderly population during the Heat Waves to insure they were cool, safe, and hydrated.

Fire Department Training/Classes

The Bryant Fire Department had three Lieutenants complete the Arkansas
Fire Academy’s Chief Officer Course in the fourth quarter. The course will
aid in the development of leadership skills for these upcoming officers.
Participated in forming of Arkansas’ first USAR Team (Task Force 1) with
six department members selected and now receiving training in technical
rescue operations. They will specialize in building collapse rescue/operations. Goal is to reach national response level team
Completed Haz-Mat Technician Level (Highest) training for eight of our members
Conducted department-wide Water Rescue Training to prepare for water emergencies
Secured training for five of our members in the Task Force One’s Truck
Academy Course in Conway provided by New York’s Fire Department. The program covered truck operations, tactics and strategies.

Chief Randy Cox and his Administrators do a wonderful job leading our Fire
Department. There is no doubt how much each of them loves our city and is
passionate about protecting its citizens. A good day at the Fire
Department is always a slow day. These firemen stay busy on the slow days
training, inspecting, serving our community and often assisting other city
departments in one way or another. I have tremendous respect for these men
and women, and I encourage you to take the time to get to know these people
that you hope you never need but will always be there when you do.

Police Department Achievements

Started the SAT Unit with a zero impact to the budget, which added three
additional officers to the streets during the busy hours of the day.
Procured nearly $400,000 worth of police equipment for approximately
only $4,000 cost to the city. Equipment includes such items as vehicles,
surveillance gear and weaponry. This equipment improves our department’s
overall ability to serve and protect.
Made the Administration Offices more accessible to the public
Chief Kizer in cooperation with the School Administrators re-instated the School Resource Program within the first five months on the job
Conducted and participated in multi-jurisdictional task forces: warrant
round-ups, DWI Task Force, RX Drug drop-off, and Drug Interdiction
Focused efforts in detecting and deterring crimes resulting in several arrests in connection with area burglaries
Established the Crimes Against Children Policy to improve & strengthen investigations
Improved department operations via re-organizational planning and consolidation

Chief Kizer has brought great leadership to the Police Department, set
goals that the officers have embraced and made a reality. In a few weeks
you will begin to see a new police fleet on the streets of Bryant and you
should swell with pride to know we were able to do this without increasing
your taxes. The Police Department, in addition to keeping our city safe,
will be adding community services throughout 2012 and serving you in ways
we have not been capable of in the past. The details to programs will be
available to you very soon. With Chief Kizer’s leadership I can honestly
say this department wins the award for doing more with less in 2011.

We should all be so grateful for the selfless dedication of our Police
Officers and Fire Fighters, who put their lives on the line every single
day to protect and serve our citizens.

Human Resources Department Achievements Implemented

Reference and Criminal Background Check policy
Drug Free Workplace policy
New process for employee random drug screening
Pending is an Internal Posting policy
Deletion of the Internal Transfer policy
Payroll processed with fewer errors or discrepancies
Personnel files were changed over to a new system and files were updated
to be in compliance with auditors expectations
Initiated a volunteer program to allow citizens of Bryant to help in
areas of need within city departments, organizations and functions. This
program will be fully in place this year.
Worked tirelessly in the structural reorganization of the Public Works
department.
Attended training with Arkansas Municipal League & Employment Labor Law Audit
Redesigned the orientation process and updated content for improved
training
Revamped the evaluation process
Completed employee performance appraisals and awarded merit increases
Streamlined and organized the employee benefits process

This department has not been without challenges in 2011 but through those
challenges it is a stronger, more effective, employee focused, department.
I’m very proud of Shari Knight and her team. They are visionaries and
have a clear picture of how they plan to improve this department even more
and to better serve the city departments and employees they represent.

Finance Department Achievements

Consolidated all cell phone services to one primary vendor, saving thousands of dollars per year.
Eliminated the courtesy envelope from water invoices, many city employees pay online or with bank draft eliminating the need for the envelope.
Implemented a water bill newsletter to keep you better informed.
Streamlined many processes in order to be more efficient, this is still a work in progress and much of it hinges on pending technology upgrades that are long overdue in the city.
In cooperation with the city council and upon the advice and direction
of the Finance department the city approved the purchase of fifteen acres
in the heart of Bryant. This land will someday possibly lend itself to
becoming a town center or a main street area, a place we have never had in
Bryant due to the fact we are a city that grew faster than a downtown could
be built. This is probably the most significant decision made in 2011. -
The Finance Department Received customer service training and has remarkably improved customer service to the citizens of Bryant.
Currently is working in cooperation with the IT department to improve
the city's telephone phone services, and when this is done, the city will
save thousands of dollars a year compared to our current service.

I commend Coleen Hyde for taking the responsibilities of the Finance department as an Interim Director. She brings a lot to this department; she has shown to be an excellent Finance Manager and is pulling a great team together in this very important department. We are currently hiring for a few positions within the Finance Department including the Director’s position.

Parks Department Achievements

Opened Bishop Park Aquatic Center
Held the first annual Bryant Kids Triathlon at Bishop Park
Hosted Relay for Life, Bryant Family Fest, Fall Fest and numerous other tournaments and events at Bishop Park
Started Fitness and Aquatic classes and a Silver Sneakers Program for Seniors
The Aquatics staff is probably running the strongest program in our state and is still growing. It starts with Make a Splash Swim Lessons and opens opportunities for children to participate in three different levels of competition all the way up to Nationals. We already have state ranked swimmers training at Bishop, and I am certain we will soon have nationally ranked swimmers. Our local High School won regional in Swimming for the Third Year in a Row. It is wonderful they can now train in the city of Bryant.

Many successful ball tournaments were held at Bishop Park last year and we are looking forward to our winning ball clubs continuing to excel. It is our hope to each year reinvest in our park infrastructure, and in partnership with our Leagues, continue to grow into our State of the Art, first class facility. We have a great foundation now we simply need more amenities such as shade structures, play ground areas, improved
landscaping, batting cages etc.... This will only add to the positive economic impact our Park System has the potential to make for our community.

Last year we installed new equipment in the softball and baseball fields such as foul poles, padding and fence crowning for safety. This year it is my hope to assist the soccer leagues in meeting some of their needs for goals and netting structures. We are also very optimistic that we will have a Splash Pad installed in Bishop Park in the very near future. This, along with some pavilions, will be great amenities and are excellent income generators that will support ongoing parks improvements.

Derek Phillips has done a great job following in his Mentor, Jeremy
Lemonds, footsteps. Derek took on this Park at a critical and challenging
time. As Bishop Park was gearing up to be in full swing Lemonds was
offered a great career opportunity at about the same time. We unexpectedly
lost our dear friend and maintenance director, Ken Palmquist to a sudden
illness. Ken was not only the cornerstone of the Parks' Maintenance
Department, he was also a dear friend to many city employees. His family
has shared with me the city was his second family, and City Employees
continue to honor him in the stories they share and the standard he set is
to this day the benchmark his department seems to hold themselves to.

Parks Director Derek Phillips, along with his remaining Parks staff, took on 2011
with zeal and passion. They grew stronger and with Derek’s incredible
leadership and team building skills, through an unbelievably challenging
time, showed to be capable of doing a job bigger than what should have been
realistically possible. Derek has just recently put in place great staff
and they are all back to doing the job of just two people at a time instead of four. I am amazed that 13 full-time employees and a smattering of part-timers are capable of running Bishop Park that is the equivalent of a small convention center plus oversee all of our other parks.

It is my goal to keep our overhead low in the Parks Department by implementing a
robust volunteer program that will enable Derek and his staff to do more
with more help without negatively impacting the budget. A well run park
such as Bishop, can lend itself to improving the overall parks system when
managed like a business. We will continue to reinvest the income generated
by this wonderful amenity paid for by tax payers back into our community.

Looking at these accomplishments above

I am very proud because I know how hard everyone is working for the
betterment of Bryant. Our goal and mission is simple, “continue to sustain
and grow a thriving, beautiful community.” That has been the goal of my
administration and together we have made great progress. I am excited to
say that we plan to keep it up and exceed expectations with your help. My administrations' hope and mission for 2012 is that as a community and local city government that we will realize the opportunities for unity and opportunities of how we can work together in unison with different entities, such as the chamber, schools, organizations, neighborhoods, churches, to accomplish far more than we can imagine. We accomplished a lot in 2011 and should be proud, and I am confident we will accomplish more in 2012. Let’s Go Positive and Let’s Make a Difference!!

I believe in leading with Action

The first opportunity for positive community driven growth in 2012 will be at the Livable Bryant Workshop

On March 15, 2012 in the upstairs meeting room at Bishop Park, we will be
asking for your help as we host the Livable Bryant Workshop. We will be
asking for your ideas for projects, programs and initiatives on how to make
Bryant a better community in which to live, learn, work, shop, worship, and play.
We will be looking at ways to:
Encourage economic growth
Improve community health
Improve how we move about the city and addressing connectivity challenges.
Create specific programs for specific neighborhoods in order to improve
our neighborhoods quality of life and improve property values.

I hope to see you at Bishop Park for the Livable Bryant Workshop. This
program will be facilitated by MetroPlan’s staff that is highly trained and shares our love of creating a beautiful, vibrant connected community. It is exciting to think of what wonderful ideas you will contribute. This will be a fun experience for everyone. I have invited the Mayor’s Youth
Advisory Council to participate in this Workshop. Please come out and see what is ahead in our great city.

We are fortunate to call Bryant home. By God’s grace we live here in this
great country, in this great state, in this great city and in your great
neighborhood. Our best days are ahead of us and we will build upon the
great foundation that has been given us. As we go into this new era, we
need to remember what made Bryant great in the first place: love of
neighbor, pride in place and sense of community. If we all work together we will achieve our heart’s desire. That is my dream and that is what we shall work toward every day in 2012.

I want to thank you again for attending tonight or taking the time to log
onto the internet and listen to the 2012 State of the City in Bryant, AR
The Center of Arkansas.

Thank you.
Mayor Dabbs

 

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