FCRA Executive Director Ivy Owen provides salary clarification
Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority (FCRA) Executive Director Ivy Owen signed an extension through the end of 2018 last Thursday, Jan. 19, after a short executive session near the end of the regular monthly meeting.
With its decision, the FCRA Board voiced its approval of Owen’s performance, but there was no pay increase to go along with it in spite of the fact that FCRA office employees received a performance increase across the board. As it turns out, the omission was Owen’s fault.
“I didn’t ask for a salary increase. It was in the budget, but I didn’t ask for it, and now I’ve got to go back and do that if I want it. I haven’t decided what I’m going to do yet,” Owen told Talk Business & Politics, noting that the nature of his contract dictates any personal salary upgrades for his position be handled through the contract itself rather than as assumed in the budget.
“The other raises I’m allowed to give employees myself don’t have to go to the Board, but I’m the only contract employee, and to get anything increased, I have to specifically ask,” he said.
The 2017 budget approved on Thursday contained a line item for a 4.8% increase for all employees. The total salaries line item shows $809,700 organization-wide with $39,000 in performance increases for a total of $848,700. There is also a “salaries-incentives” line item in the amount of $15,000 for “potential year-end incentive bonuses.” Owen’s salary increase would have been included as part of the $39,000 figure, but since he did not ask for it, getting the money will require an approval from the FCRA Board. For 2016, Owen earned a salary of $174,662, so a pay increase at 4.8% would total around $8,383. 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.
Owen succeeded current Fort Smith Mayor Sandy Sanders as FCRA executive director in 2007. Since the authority began to actively market properties in 2001, it has driven more than $1.3 billion in public and private capital investment, from businesses like Umarex, ArcBest, MARS PetCare, and Glatfelter; the Arkansas Colleges of Health Education (ACHE) and its inaugural facility, the Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine (ARCOM), which opens to its first class of 150 students in August; and the cities of Fort Smith and Barling. Owen estimated that by the end of 2017, the district will host more than 3,500 jobs and 22 residential developments.
The FCRA received the 7,000 acres that would become Chaffee Crossing 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 leaving 2,595 acres altogether – 1,754 is marketable and the other 841 are “wetlands,” Owen said.
During a 16-year span, FCRA’s land sales have amounted to just over 275 acres per year, placing a potential decommission date in about 6-1/3 years, or as Owen told Talk Business & Politics in a previous interview, “a minimum of six years to maybe eight and a half.”