Tuesday, January 25, 2011

TOP STORY >> Sherwood stabilizing financially

Leader staff writer

Sherwood saw a new golf course, a new police chief, a new public-works director and a new retirement fund last year and building-permit values double, according to Mayor Virginia Hillman in her state of the city address to the council Monday night.

Even with all those changes or additions, she called 2010 a financially stabilizing year.

“We ended 2010 expending less than budgeted in the general fund and also received more revenue than we spent. In fact, all of our funds expended less than revenues received. Everyone worked together to make this possible,” the mayor said.

She added that 2011 will bring new challenges and opportunities to the city.

“Census projections are anticipated in late February. The 2011 budget-appropriated funds are for an overlay program, completion of Brockington Road and completion of the north Claremont drainage project along with the Abercorn drainage project,” she said.

The city saw the value of its building permits double in 2010, going from $30 million to $61 million.

Hillman, who was re-elected in 2010 and is starting her first full term as mayor, said property crimes in the city have dropped 9 percent and crimes against persons or violent crimes dropped 8 percent in 2010, even though the police department is currently short six police officers.

She said that the parks and recreation department had a busy year completing repairs from previous floods and a tornado.

“The anticipated opening of the Greens at North Hills arrived as scheduled and the impact and successful participation in the use of the course has exceeded all projections,” the mayor said.

Hillman went on, “The now annual Arkansas Lady Razorbacks softball game drew another outstanding crowd to the Sherwood sports complex. The parks department hosted several successful events throughout 2010. It started with the Fourth of July celebration, on to Sherwood Fest and culminated with the 10th annual Trail of Holiday Lights.”

Capt. Jim Bedwell was promoted at the end of the year to head the police department after Chief Kel Nicholson stepped down. Nicholson remains on the force as a captain running the detective branch. Brian Galloway replaced Lanny Leder, who retired, as the public works director.

The city’s long-insolvent retirement fund was frozen and a new program initiated that gives the city more latitude but still provides solid benefits. Employees have the option of moving from the old to the new fund.

The mayor said the public-works department collected 49,610 cubic yards of extra pickup materials and 21,404 cubic yards of household garbage.

The city’s hot-check division issued almost 10,000 warrants, up from 3,000 in 2009. The district court handled about 26,000 cases, including DWI, traffic and criminal.

The animal shelter was about to adopt out 94 percent of its adoptable animals during the year.

The senior citizens center used a grant to purchase a new mini van with a ramp, plus new computers, a new phone system and a new ice machine. The center delivered almost 12,000 meals during the year to about 100 seniors.

The van, and others the center has, was used for 4,700 trips to doctors and other locations to help the seniors in the city.

The officer of the year award went to Kevin Fletcher, dispatcher was Chris Crim and the clerk was Debra Jones.