The Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority (FCRA) Board approved a 3% pay increase for FCRA Executive Director Ivy Owen and reviewed final performance numbers for 2016 at Thursday’s (Feb. 16) meeting.
The Board also approved a new member to fill the slot vacated by retired Greenwood Public Schools Superintendent Bob Evans.
At the end of Thursday’s meeting, the Board convened in executive session to discuss a salary increase request Owen had forgotten to submit when the 2017 budget was approved in January. Board members approved unanimously after the session, raising Owen’s salary to $179,902.
The 2017 budget contained a line item for a 4.8% increase for all employees. The total salaries line item showed $809,700 organization-wide with $39,000 in performance increases for a total of $848,700. There was also a “salaries-incentives” line item in the amount of $15,000 for “potential year-end incentive bonuses.” Owen’s salary increase is to be included as part of the $39,000 figure. For 2016, Owen earned a salary of $174,662.
The Board had previously decided to end year-end bonuses for Owen, instead adjusting his annual salary. In 2014, Talk Business & Politics reported Owen’s earnings at $161,000.
Shortly before Thursday’s executive session, FCRA staff presented the 2016 annual report, noting $323 million in capital investments in 2016, pushing the overall total to $1.347 billion since 1997.
Most of those investments were from industrial employers, who invested $564 million (42%) in the district, followed by residential development at $327 million (24%). The government sector chipped in an additional $168 million (12%), and most of the remainder came from education ($107 million, 8%); commercial/retail ($94 million, 7%); utilities/infrastructure ($57 million, 4%); and medical ($13.87 million, 1%).
With 2016’s investments, the report projects 3,504 jobs stemming from properties sold through Dec. 31. From that number, the commercial/retail sector leads the way with 1,278 jobs. Industrial is next at 1,018, and the education sector rounds out the top three at 735. From March through December, the FCRA had 26 groundbreakings, renovation projects, and ribbon cuttings with 501 new jobs created.
On the cumulative total revenue side, the FCRA helped generate $45.483 million in 2016, up just over 19% from 2014’s $37.363 million. Also for 2016, total land sales hit $2.828 million leaving 1,754 marketable acres — 841 acres are unmarketable green spaces — from the original 7,000 acres FCRA received as a result of the 1995 decision by the Base Realignment and Closures (BRAC) Commission to permanently close Fort Chaffee. The Fort was then an active U.S. Army post with around 72,000 acres. The federal government leased the remaining 65,000 acres to the Arkansas Army National Guard for training purposes. Of the 7,000, the FCRA has sold off 4,405 acres, or around 275 acres per year in the 16 years since the organization started actively marketing. Last year’s land sales were a little below this average at 201.578 acres.
Finally, the FCRA Board voted on current Greenwood Public Schools Superintendent Dr. John Ciesla to replace Evans as the new member of the FCRA. Evans announced his retirement at the end of 2016. Ciesla joined Greenwood Mayor Doug Kinslow in being considered. While the vote was unanimous, FCRA Chair Dean Gibson said “both were excellent candidates.”