FCRA extends Ivy Owen contract through end of 2018, approves 4.8% in performance increases

by Aric Mitchell ([email protected]) 307 views 

The Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority (FCRA) extended the contract of FCRA Executive Director Ivy Owen, approved its 2017 budget, and dealt with a busy real estate agenda Thursday (Jan. 19) at its monthly board meeting.

The contract extension of Owen came at the end of the meeting after several minutes in executive session. Previously, Owen had told Talk Business & Politics he planned on staying aboard for another four years. That was in 2014. The new extension will keep Owen in the executive director position through the end of 2018.

The Board had previously decided to end year-end bonuses for Owen, instead adjusting his annual salary. While 2015 and 2016 salaries were not available in Tuesday’s media kit, Talk Business & Politics reported Owen’s earnings at $161,000 in 2014 and asked for an update to the new number following Thursday’s meeting, but the information was not made available.

In addition to the contract extension, the 2017 budget calls for a 4.8% increase for all employees. FCRA’s 2017 budget shows $809,700 in salaries 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.”

Total expenses for 2017 are projected at $4.87 million, which includes $2.2 million in operating expenses and $2.67 million in capital expenditures. Total income is projected to be $3.561 million for an overall deficit of $1.31 million. The FCRA budgets conservatively to account for late real estate closing dates since most of its revenue comes from property sales. The Authority holds $4.3 million in reserves with $1.2 million in checking and $3.1 million in CD accounts.

During a busy real estate agenda, the board said goodbye to two projects associated with area faith-based organizations.

First, with the former House of Restoration 10-acre property at Massard Road back under FCRA control, the board rejected two offers from Chuck Fawcett realty ($140,000) and Carrington Creek Holdings ($180,000) that would have used the land for residential neighborhoods. The FCRA’s Real Estate Review Committee believed $14,000 to $18,000 per acre undervalued the property in an environment of rising home sales.

In September 2016, the Board nixed an extension for the church after it failed to provide evidence of verifiable financing it had promised a month earlier.

Tashala Devrow, the church’s pastor, had previously renegotiated after the Board voted to deny an extension request in July 2016. The church resurrected its funding efforts after the FCRA’s denial by reducing initial building plans from $2.8 million and securing the promise of a $1.3 million donation. The promise never came to fruition.

Also Thursday, the FCRA gave Rev. Ulysses Washington, formerly of the Mission United Methodist Church, permission to negotiate a sale on the 10 acres reserved for a Lend-A-Hand affordable housing project at Chaffee Crossing, which was to be undertaken by the church. Washington “regretted we were unable to get this project off the ground,” he told Board members. However, he is discussing sale of the property with Rod Coleman of ERC Holdings. In September of 2016, the FCRA sold an adjoining 30 acres to the developer at a price of $360,000 for the purpose of single family residential developments.

The FCRA was tasked with developing former military property under an initiative from the Department of Defense in 2000. At that time, it was required to reserve 40 acres for affordable housing. Coleman’s development is believed to have a component of affordable housing in it, but the Board will know more when it reviews terms of the sale, likely at the Feb. 16 meeting.