FORT SMITH – The Fort Smith Board of Directors voted 6-1 to adopt an operating budget for the next year at Tuesday night’s meeting.
At least one director had some reluctance to get on board with the full scope of the budget.
“I would only vote on a base budget” said Vice Mayor Kevin Settle, who was the lone dissenting vote. “It is a Christmas wish list. We were presented a wish list of $11 Million extra. I know my kids give me a Christmas wish list and I cut.”
Settle said he hoped that revenues would cover the expenditures that were being laid out in the numbers for the next year.
“I hope one year from now we aren’t undoing what we are voting on tonight.” Settle said. “I’ll be voting against this tonight, not because I am against our citizens or our workers. I am voting against all the extras.”
The Board also voted 4-3 to reinstate the controversial business licensing fee of $100 annually that was replaced in 1994 by a one-cent sales tax. The revenues are expected to bring in some $480,000 towards the city budget, however the fee will not be assessed against new businesses for a period of one year.
Directors Don Hutchings, Tracy Pennartz, and Kevin Settle voted against the measure.
Director George Catsivis asked that the funds raised by the business licensing fees be earmarked for the Fort Smith Police Department, however, his motion was defeated 4-3. The fee will be assessed to businesses regardless of size.